The PCTA is working to save a Southern Sierra meadow

This article first appeared in the PCT Communicator magazine. Please help save Landers Meadow by donating to our Land Protection Fund.

William “Bill” Landers was born in Texas in 1827. At the age of 23, he rounded up his herd of longhorn cattle and headed to California. It took him more than a year to reach the Golden State, where he chose Kern County to raise his cattle. By the 1890s he had built a large cattle empire and secured a place for himself in Kern County’s early history. Today, the place that bears Landers’ name remains largely the same: an open, wet meadow abundant with wildflowers in the spring and ringed by sagebrush and mixed conifer forest. However, these days, if you see a group sitting down at the edge of the meadow at dusk, kicking off their boots and swapping stories, they are more likely to be travelers along the Pacific Crest Trail than cowboys taking care of their herd.

Help save Landers Meadow, a special place along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Help save Landers Meadow, a special place along the Pacific Crest Trail.

The PCTA has an agreement to purchase the 245-acre Landers Meadows property from Renewable Resources Group, a land investment company, by August, otherwise it will go on the market. The property is within the Sequoia National Forest in the southeast corner of Kern County in the southern Sierra Nevada, 607 trail miles from the southern terminus of the PCT. This unique area of the PCT takes travelers through the transition from the Mojave Desert to the Sierra Nevada range, passing by meadows, pinyon-juniper woodlands, ponderosa pine and dry mixed conifer forest. Water sources along the way are sparse. Heading north through the southern extent of Sequoia National Forest, the PCT comes around a bend where a view of the idyllic Landers Meadow greets hikers and horseback riders.

Mountain meadows such as Landers Meadow are threatened in the High Sierra. In addition to providing scenic views along the PCT, these important ecosystems act like sponges, absorbing rainwater and melting snow, holding it underground to slowly release it into mountain streams through dry summer months. The Landers Meadow property contains numerous springs that feed Landers Creek, a treatable drinking water supply for day users and distance hikers as well as an important source of water for wildlife. Landers Meadow is part of the headwaters of Kelso Creek, a desert stream that is crucial to the Kelso Creek Important Bird Area identified by the Audubon Society.

Map of Landers Meadow on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Click to enlarge this map of Landers Meadow.

“In the face of climate change with associated drying trends, the protection of mountain meadows is an action that helps to protect water supply in the arid west,” said Meghan Hertel, director of working lands for the Audubon Society.

Boundary areas between mountain meadows and forests provide crucial habitat for wildlife in mountain ecosystems and often support the most biodiversity within a forested landscape. Seventy-eight species of birds have been observed on the 245-acre Landers Meadow property along with black bears, mountain lions and mule deer.


As a national scenic trail known for its untouched wilderness, many people don’t realize that 10 percent of the PCT is impacted by private lands. These are properties where PCT managers have no control over what might happen right next to the trail tread or within sight of the trail. In many cases these private lands look just like adjacent public lands, and they go unnoticed until someone decides to build a home, harvest the trees, extract minerals or put up no trespassing signs. Landers Meadow is one of these special places along the trail that remain unprotected from the threat of development.

When Renewable Resources Group decided last year to sell Landers Meadow, they called the PCTA to let us know the property was for sale and we had a limited opportunity to buy it. The property is a priority acquisition in the PCT Land Inventory, which identifies and prioritizes potential land acquisitions along the entire 2,650 miles of the PCT. So, when the PCTA received the call, we knew we had to act quickly.

“Landers Meadow is a perfect example of why PCTA has taken measures to expand our land protection program,” said Liz Bergeron, PCTA executive director and CEO. “If we aren’t prepared to respond to these types of land acquisition opportunities, we may lose our only chance to prevent development along a section of the PCT.”

The Landers Meadow property could be used to build homes such as this one nearby. The PCTA's intent is to purchase the land and eventually turn it over to the public.

The Landers Meadow property could be used to build homes such as this one nearby. The PCTA’s intent is to purchase the land and eventually turn it over to the public.

After the call from Renewable Resources Group, PCTA began doing some due diligence on the property starting with a site visit, an appraisal of the fair market value of the parcels and a Phase 1 Environmental Hazardous Materials Assessment. The landowner agreed to give us an exclusive right to buy the property. Our deadline is short: We have until August to acquire the property and keep it from being listed on the open real estate market.

Acquisition of the Landers Meadow property will contribute to the PCTA’s goal to permanently protect the entire Pacific Crest Trail corridor, ensuring that the PCT will retain its iconic wilderness character for generations to come. The PCTA intends to own and manage the property until we can transfer it to the adjacent Sequoia National Forest to be managed for public recreation and access, scenic enjoyment along the PCT, wildlife habitat protection, and watershed resilience.

Will you make a gift to our Land Protection Fund today to help protect Landers Meadow from development? PCTA needs to raise $550,000 by August 1st to purchase the property. Your gifts will be matched by two generous donors, up to the first $200,000 received.

Author: Megan Wargo

Megan Wargo is PCTA’s Director of Land Protection. She oversees a program dedicated to protecting the landscape and trail miles that are still held by private landowners. Megan brings more than a dozen years of experience leading teams and managing landscape-scale conservation projects.