Sierra Nevada ‘journeys’ for underserved youth continue with ranch acquisition

Since 2010, kids from California and northern Nevada, including youth from low-income families, have been enjoying the outdoor programs provided by Sierra Nevada Journeys at Grizzly Creek Ranch. Thanks to a $1 million grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the nonprofit was able to purchase the 462‑acre property, meaning the fun, educational journeys into nature will continue well into the future.

“We are deeply grateful for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy for investing in our mission and the youth we serve,” said Sean Hill, chief executive officer with Sierra Nevada Journeys. “With their generous support, we were able to purchase Grizzly Creek Ranch and create a permanent home for inspiring and serving underserved and underrepresented youth across California and Nevada, including right here in Plumas County.”

Summer camp students celebrate the completion of their geodesic dome, one of the many fun, collaborative problem-solving activities offered by Sierra Nevada Journeys at its Grizzly Creek Ranch. Photos submitted by Sierra Nevada Journeys

Camp purchase advances outdoor access for all

Nearly 55 percent of the more than 200,000 kids who have attended the Grizzly Creek Ranch have been from families with financial barriers and 70 percent are students of color, making Sierra Nevada Journeys an ideal pathway to advance California’s Outdoor Access for All Initiative. The nonprofit is able to accomplish this by offering scholarships to families in need through the help of private donations.

“For over a decade, Sierra Nevada Journeys has served students with high-quality experiential education and the acquisition of the campus will secure this educational asset for generations to come,” said Plumas County Board of Supervisors Chair Kevin Goss. “The County encourages Sierra Nevada Journeys to continue to serve students from low-income families and acquisition of the campus should ensure accessibility to programs for underserved students across the region.”

SNC Grant, donations made land purchase possible

While most of the money was raised through donations, the $1 million grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy made the $5.5 million acquisition a reality. The transfer of ownership to Sierra Nevada Journeys also means the property will remain undeveloped, protecting the scenic Sierra Valley land, including a 50-acre riparian area, pond, intermittent stream, alpine meadows, and Big Grizzly Creek, which is a water source for the Middle Fork Feather River (part of the California State Water Project).

Under a long-term management plan formed with the Feather River Land Trust, the property will continue to flourish as a critical habitat for the many species that call it home.

Students at Sierra Nevada Journeys’ summer camp answer questions regarding the important benefits streams and alpine meadows play in nature. Sierra Nevada Journeys has hosted more than 200,000 young students, including those from low-income families, since 2010 at its Grizzly Creek Ranch.

Grizzly Creek Ranch boosts local tourism, economy

On an economic front, keeping Grizzly Creek Ranch in the hands of Sierra Nevada Journeys will allow the nonprofit to preserve the year-round economic boost it brings to Portola and surrounding towns. By employing roughly 65 people, the Ranch is one of Plumas County’s top employers.

“The ranch is a significant economic impact to eastern Plumas County bringing in year-round and seasonal staff, students, families, other groups, and tourism,” added Goss. “It’s also an opportunity to secure an environmentally sensitive watershed area.”

With the recent acquisition, Sierra Nevada Journeys will not only look to preserve the present-day natural benefits of Grizzly Creek Ranch, but continue the educational, outdoor journeys for children of all walks of life well into the future.

Visitors and campers are greeted by a rustic, metal sign at the entrance to Sierra Nevada Journeys’ Grizzly Creek Ranch. The sign recognizes all the people and organizations that helped the nonprofit purchase the property, allowing it to continue its science-based, outdoor programs and summer camps.