The Sutter Buttes, a unique cluster of volcanoes isolated in the midst of the Sacramento Valley, was the sacred "Middle Mountain" of the valley Indian tribes. The Middle Mountain Foundation (MMF), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, was formed in 1989 as an outgrowth of Sutter Buttes Naturalists, originally founded by Walt and Rebecca Anderson. The articles of incorporation stated that the specific purposes of the foundation were to "educate the general public in the relevance and importance to society of natural and cultural resources and to encourage preservation, understanding, and good stewardship of such resources." The Sutter Buttes formed the actual foundation of such education and preservation efforts.
The philosophy of the organization stressed developing a strong sense of place, finding a way for the public interest and private land to converge for the benefit of all. The organization has always favored inclusiveness, bringing together private landowners with scientists, educators, students, families, artists, and other citizens. The common ground is the Sutter Buttes itself, a landscape of exceptional natural and cultural values.
Through contractual agreements with landowners, MMF has created learning opportunities within the Sutter Buttes for thousands of people, typically as guided hikes for the public or as school class outings. Carefully controlled access allows visitors to have high quality experiences while protecting the land itself. MMF board members also engage in outreach, spreading the message of this special place to those who have not yet visited the interior of the range.
MMF currently works collaboratively with numerous entities, including local (Colusa, Yuba and Sutter Counties), California (State Parks and Fish and Game), Regional (e.g., Great Valley Center), and National Land Trusts (e.g., Land Trust Alliance, Nature Conservancy). MMF believes that land protection easements, which compensate the landowner for development rights and allow them to continue current life styles on the land, are a fundamental tool for protecting the private lands in the Buttes, but it also considers other land protection options. As a land trust, MMF owns some land in the Buttes and can receive gifts of land from willing donors.
With strong leadership, a professional board, experienced advisors, an executive director, part-time staff, talented hike guides, and dedicated volunteers, Middle Mountain Foundation continues to pursue the mission under which it was founded. Walt Anderson's book, Inland Island: the Sutter Buttes, is a co-publishing venture that we believe enhances our mission. We invite all those interested in the future of this great place to join with us in our education and land protection ventures.