Conservancy names new River Fork Ranch preserve manager |

Conservancy names new River Fork Ranch preserve manager

Staff Reports
A group hike at the River Fork Ranch in Genoa.
Simon Williams

A new preserve manager has been introduced at the Nature Conservancy’s River Fork Ranch outside of Genoa.

Lori Leonard comes to Carson Valley from the McCarran Ranch Preserve on the Truckee River where she has been a restoration technician for nearly four years.

“Now, I’m really looking forward to bringing my conservation skills and background to the beautiful Carson Valley,” she said. “I’m excited to engage with community members to make the most of this incredible preserve and to build on the success that the conservancy and partners have had here over nearly two decades.”

Originally from Wisconsin, Leonard grew up on a fourth-generation dairy and beef farm, which her family still runs. Her early conservation efforts began at The Aldo Leopold Foundation doing prairie restoration. From there, she headed West and worked in Utah, Alaska, and California doing habitat restoration and vegetation surveys. Before moving to Nevada in 2012, she was a farm bill biologist for five years in a Natural Resources Conservation Service office, helping enroll private landowners in USDA conservation programs.

“Our goal is for River Fork Ranch to showcase how people and nature can both thrive together,” Leonard said.

The preserve plays an important role in protecting floodplain for its bird and wildlife habitat and ranching values.

The Riverfork Ranch was the site of the Minden Christmas Bird Count on Jan. 5, where the Lahontan Audubon Society, Jim Woods from Birding Under Nevada Skies and 18 volunteers counted 70 species and 9,520 birds.

Trails along the river and around wetlands offer a tranquil place for walking or trail running. The LEED Platinum-certified Whit Hall Interpretive Center demonstrates green development.

The preserve has many uses, including serving as an outdoor classroom for local students, a testing ground for sustainable agricultural practices, and a living laboratory for biology researchers.