The Mendocino-Tahoe Conservancy's purpose is to engage people in the conservation, stewardship, and enjoyment of our state's rich ecological, historical, cultural, and economic resources.

To accomplish this mission, we work closely with community-based partner organizations to:

• Preserve, restore, and steward a "necklace" of publicly accessible, protected natural areas and historical sites in a Heritage Corridor Network across California, through fee-title ownership, conservation easements, public lands advocacy, and community stewardship alliances.

• Create and maintain a Cross-California hiking trail that would link these sites in a contiguous route from the Pacific coast to beyond the Sierra crest and encourage local community-based travel and human-powered recreation and transportation.

• Lead educational programs and develop and distribute educational materials that advance a strong conservation ethic for California's ecological, historical, and cultural heritage.

• Promote tourism-related and other economic benefits of the Heritage Corridor Network, Cross-California Trail, and resource conservation/stewardship.


Our Founder and His Vision

The Mendocino-Tahoe Conservancy (MTC)was created by conservation pioneer John Deveaux Olmsted (March 2, 1938 - March 8, 2011), and continues in his memory with an active 12-member board of directors and numerous volunteers. John's ceaseless energy and epic vision allows us to carry on his work in a spirit of reverence for the Earth and sheer love of nature. Whether collecting signatures or pulling bull thistles, John's hands, heart and feet are all over northern California. Over the past forty years many hikers encountered him on a trail and stood, enthralled or impatient, or both, as he stood - walking stick in hand, eyes closed, - summoning up his angels, and telling the story of the land. Learn more about John here.





Imagine hiking, cycling, or horseback riding all the way from the Pacific coast to beyond the Sierra crest, through the incredible ecological diversity of California, experiencing crashing ocean waves, colorful wildflower meadows, fragrant sage scrub hillsides, tall redwood groves, ancient pygmy forests, golden oak-studded foothills, verdant riparian corridors, fascinating serpentine plant communities, uniquely delicate vernal pools, fertile agricultural lands, powerful rivers with runs of wild salmon, valley wetlands filled with migratory waterfowl, craggy peaks and buttes, twining manzanita shrublands, towering forests of fir, lush montane meadows, dramatic alpine scree, and high-mountain vistas! These diverse landscapes form our ecological heritage, and are located somewhat linearly along California’s 39th Parallel, (see our proposed route here). Inspired by John Olmsted’s vision of this trail, MTC is scouting route options and contacting regional partners in the western portion of the proposed route, and hiking the eastern 120 miles of trail that are already contiguous and accessible to the public. The Cross-California Ecological Heritage Trail was included as one of 27 state-recognized California Trail Corridors mapped in the California Recreational Trails Plan in 2002 (downloadable at this link, map on Appendix B, page xiii).

In the summer of 2011, MTC board members Kristen Strohm and Stephen Hein hiked the contiguous eastern third of the trail, from Ruch Creek Falls near Nevada City to Lake Tahoe's north-western shore.They presented a slideshow on their adventure accompanied by performance of songs Stephen wrote along the trail at the recent Olmsted Memorial Birthday Bash.


70 of California’s state parks are slated for closure in 2012 due to state budget shortfalls, and MTC board member Alden Olmsted, son of founder John Olmsted, is pioneering a campaign to raise the funds necessary to keep the parks open, one dollar at a time. Please donate at this link, visit this link for the list of endangered parks, visit your own local parks in person to volunteer and to enjoy them, and spread the word to everyone you know!



With 80 acres of blue oak / foothill pine woodlands, several wetland acres, and abundant wildlife, the ecological values of the Yuba Powerhouse Preserve are also complimented by its pre-1900 historical significance as the site of one of the first hydroelectric power operations of the gold rush era. The site is also a keystone of ecological connectivity, as it is located between the University of California's Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center and California Department of Fish and Game lands and conservation easements, providing a contiguous landscape for wildlife movement through several thousand acres of Sierra foothills habitat. Owned by MTC’s partner non-profit organization (also founded by John Olmsted), the California Institute of Man in Nature (CIMIN), the site has inspired several environmental education groups and hosted public tours to enrich people’s connections to both nature and history. The MTC is currently in the visioning and planning stages for the long-term stewardship of this vibrant site, and is working to raise the several thousand dollars still needed to secure the site’s long-term future.
Please donate to help secure this site of California’s heritage in perpetuity via either our Paypal link on the donation page or by mailing a check addressed to: Mendocino-Tahoe Conservancy, PO Box 1026, Nevada City, CA 95959.
To learn more about the preserve, please visit this page and check our events page for upcoming public hikes at the preserve.


John Olmsted's Earth Planet Museum is housed in the caverns underneath the Grass Valley museum in St. Joseph's Cultural Center. It is a rambling time tunnel that provides a portal to the nineteenth century and the ideological roots of technology and ecology. 
The museum houses an eclectic collection of Native American mortars and arrowheads, artifacts from gold rush-era immigrant wagons and homesteads, antique typewriters and stereoscopes, taxidermied specimens of local wildlife, memorabilia of Thomas Edison and John Muir, an abundance of books and magazines published in the 1800s, and much more. The museum is open to the public by appointment. People interested in researching the collection should contact Stephen Hein HERE.
Two graduate students in the California College of the Arts’ curatorial program spent the summer in museum. After inventorying and cataloging the many historical treasures and ecological artifacts that John collected there, the students developed a proposal for the future of the museum and its collections, and will recommend ways to provide the greatest educational benefit to the public while remaining financially sustainable. The students plan to publish a book about the museum, and we’ll let you know when the book is complete and available.

Hare Creek Preserve

The Hare Creek preserve is a 3 acre haven in coastal Mendocino County, abutting the Jackson State Demonstration Forest, south of the City of Fort Bragg. The preserve features a canopy of rapidly growing second-growth redwood, dominated by a few elder giants passed over by the loggers of a previous century. A step into the giant sword ferns, wild ginger and irises that compose the understory here is a step into the damp, shady, primeval world that once held sway along our coastal creeks. It is a place of magic. Like the Yuba Powerhouse Preserve, the Hare Creek Preserve is owned by CIMIN, stewarded by MTC, and in need of funds to secure its protection in perpetuity. You can help us protect this preserve by donating via our Paypal link on the donation page, or by mailing a check addressed to: Mendocino-Tahoe Conservancy, PO Box 1026, Nevada City, CA 95959. To learn more about the preserve, please visit this link.