Founding Story

bear yuba land trust

It began with the development boom of the late 1980s when real estate prices were skyrocketing and development threatened the quality of life in Nevada County. Area residents grew apprehensive as new housing neighborhoods and shopping centers popped up around the county, closing long-established trails and swim holes and fractured historic ranchland and open space. Meanwhile, Nevada County government had no mandate or future plan to build community trails or parks.

Nevada County Land Trust was born in 1990 when a small, diverse group of concerned citizens came together to preserve local farms, ranches, meadows and forests while recognizing that smart growth was important to the economic viability of the region.

Guided by a mission to work with willing property owners who wanted to conserve their land, the group drew support from all shades of the political spectrum while remaining scrupulously non-political. Early projects of Nevada County Land Trust included: Mathis Pond, the Litton Trail, Round Mountain Wildlife Preserve and the North Star House.

Conservation, Collaboration

In the fall of 2009, Trust for Public Land, Nevada County Land Trust and Placer Land Trust formed the Northern Foothills Partnership to more strategically protect waterways, historic ranches and iconic oak woodlands of the Bear and Yuba River watersheds. To date, the Northern Foothills Partnership has protected 3,125 acres.

In 2011, Nevada County Land Trust became Bear Yuba Land Trust, bringing greater awareness to 9,000 acres protected within two watersheds spanning an area that begins in the lower elevation foothills and stretches to the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

Today, Bear Yuba Land Trust is poised for the future, with more than a thousand family members, hundreds of volunteers, dozens of engaged experts, a solid balance sheet and a new strategic plan. The Land Trust is responding to the growing demand for more open space and protected lands in the Bear River and Yuba River watershed.



Founders established (then) Nevada County Land Trust. A desk was set up for the new Land Trust in the back of the SYRCL office; Sequoya Challenge became the fiscal agent until non-profit status was gained.


Non-profit status granted to Nevada County Land Trust


Mathis Pond in Alta Sierra gifted to NCLT

Mathis Pond
Mathis Pond


Round Mountain, first conservation easement granted


Litton Trail opened


Burton Homestead donated to NCLT; first summer day camp for kids


North Star House and property was donated to NCLT; debate over the evolving mission of the land trust

North Star House
North Star House


BYLT wins Linden Lea lawsuit, successfully defending a conservation easement in the face of a legal challenge


Co-founded Northern Foothills Partnership for landscape scale conservation and connectivity


BYLT became accredited through the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission, a nationally recognized certification process for land trust standards and practices


New business plan expanded the mission and charter of NCLT to include the acquisition of land for public benefit with a focus on the Bear and Yuba watersheds; changed name to Bear Yuba Land Trust


Sequoya Challenge merged with BYLT along with ownership of Independence Trail


Garden Bar Preserve working cattle ranch was acquired by BYLT to preserve local agriculture

Garden Bar Preserve
Garden Bar Preserve


Rice’s Crossing acquired by BYLT to open as a river parkway and protect the Yuba River Canyon

Rice's Crossing
Rice’s Crossing