Born at Lompoc, California, Harvey Russell was raised on a portion of the old Conejo Grant his father had purchased. This became known as the Triunfo Ranch, extending into both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties; the area is now known as Russell Valley.
Harvey spent his entire life in association with the range cattle business and most of his adult life in partnership with his brothers, Hubbard and Joseph. For many years he headquartered at the old Adobe Ranch near Madera. Other ranches operated by the brothers were the Sargent Ranch at Gilroy, San Juan Ranch near Shandon, and San Carlos Ranch at Carmel. Later the partnership also acquired the Rancho Cuyama in Cuyama Valley.
A life-long proponent of improved range and cattle management practices, Harvey was one of the first to recognize that nutritional deficiencies of forage exist. He advocated supplementing range cattle to improve their productive efficiency. He also demonstrated that non-use of the California bur-clover range resulted in its deterioration. Working to interest the University of California in conducting experiments on these problems, he became a cooperator with Drs. George Hart and Harold Guilbert. With the initiation of cooperative research at the San Joaquin Experimental Range he served as chairman of the Cattlemen's Advisory Committee throughout its period of service.
Harvey Russell was a strong believer in membership in livestock organizations as a means of solving many of the industry's problems. He served as a director of the California Cattlemen's Association for over 20 years; he also served a term as director of the American National Cattlemen's Association. For many years he was chairman of the Hide and Brand Committee of the California Cattlemen's Association. He was a member of the first Stockmen's Advisory Committee to the Bureau of Livestock Identification of the California Department of Agriculture.