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Jan 24, 2013

Western Rivers Conservancy: Winter 2013 Report

With backing from GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) is buying land along outstanding rivers across the western United States. Your gift supports the core costs of purchasing land and placing properties into permanent conservation stewardship. Your contribution is dedicated to such activities as: developing relationships with willing seller landowners; preserving salmon and wildlife habitat; and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.            

Thanks to your contribution, we have recently:   

-        Purchased a 1,284-acre property along Idaho’s legendary Salmon River.

-        Protected 400 acres along Colorado’s Gunnison River from gravel mining and development.

Idaho’s Salmon River:

At a dramatic bend in Idaho’s Salmon River, adjacent to U.S. Bureau of Land Management property and a public recreation site, lies a segment of intact riverfront grassland that has been privately held for years. Too often, the fate of privately owned properties in such stunning natural settings is development-as trophy homes, ranchettes, or hunting or fishing lodges. But this particular piece of wild Idaho will be permanently protected.

Western Rivers Conservancy has purchased 1,284 acres of land adjacent to the BLM’s Pine Bar Recreation Site, west of Grangeville, Idaho, where the lower Salmon River makes a sharp bend. The property wraps around the bend, forming a steep, grassy bowl that bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer use for winter range. The grasslands are thought to shelter two ESA-listed plants-Spalding’s catchfly and MacFarlane’s four o’clock-and to support species the BLM considers sensitive: green-band and broad-fruit mariposa lilies, peregrine and prairie falcons, mountain quail, western toad and more.

Small, high-gradient streams tumble down the bowl to reach nearly two miles of curving riverbank below, which hides rare cultural resources and almost encircles the BLM’s recreation site-an area that is heavily used for boating, fishing, picnicking and camping. Most importantly, the river here provides excellent habitat for some of the Columbia Basin’s most crucial ESA-listed salmonids: sockeye, spring/summer Chinook, fall Chinook, steelhead and bull trout.

The Salmon River has only one small dam (located at its headwaters) and is fed by clear, cold streams that drain more than three million acres of roadless area in central Idaho. With its free-flowing length and wildest of wilderness settings, it is arguably the most important river in the Rockies for salmon conservation.

Completion of this project will bring into public ownership an inholding in one of the West’s most dramatic settings, so that the land can forever be managed for fish and wildlife, conservation-sensitive public recreation, and recovery of imperiled salmonid species.

Colorado’s Gunnison River:

No longer is gravel mining in the cards for a stretch of Colorado’s lower Gunnison River. In June 2012, Western Rivers Conservancy conveyed three miles of river frontage along this iconic desert waterway to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Surrounded entirely by the BLM’s recently created Dominguez- Escalante National Conservation Area (NCA), the 403-acre parcel had been proposed for gravel mining and real estate development.

Instead, the conveyance saved this outstanding natural area from degradation. The lower Gunnison provides critical habitat for four endangered warm-water fish-the Colorado River pikeminnow, razorback sucker, humpback chub and bonytail chub-and supports prized jumbo rainbow and brown trout. The property itself boasts habitat for the threatened Colorado hookless cactus, the northern leopard frog, bald eagle and a variety of other desert flora and fauna. Absorbing these 403 acres into the NCA will both maintain important ecological values and expand public access to back-country trails, red rock canyons and boating and fishing sites on this famous Colorado waterway.

This project follows two earlier WRC acquisitions just downstream, within a BLM recreation management area. Yet the work is not over. WRC continues to partner with the BLM on a long-term conservation strategy for the NCA along the lower Gunnison -to ensure that the river remains a thread of life winding through the desert West.

Conclusion

With the support of GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy is expanding our efforts to protect riverlands for fish, wildlife and people. Please contact David Wilkins at 503-241-0151, ext. 214 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) with any questions or for further information. Thank you.


Attachments:
Oct 25, 2012

Western Rivers Conservancy: Fall 2012 Report

With backing from GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) is buying land along outstanding rivers across the western United States. Your gift supports the core costs of purchasing land and placing properties into permanent conservation stewardship. Your contribution is dedicated to such activities as: developing relationships with willing seller landowners; preserving salmon and wildlife habitat; and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.            

Thanks to your contribution, we have recently:   

-        Purchased an additional 177 acres of critical habitat along the North Santiam River.

-        Protected 287 acres of prime estuarine habitat within the Siuslaw National Forest.

Oregon’s North Santiam River:

Oregon’s Willamette River Basin is ripe for protection and restoration. Here, Western Rivers Conservancy is on the leading edge of a multi-agency conservation effort, working to preserve a strategically-located property along the North Santiam River, an important Willamette River tributary. In December 2011, Western Rivers Conservancy took an important step toward restoring fish and wildlife habitat by purchasing the first 161 acres of a 338-acre property.

WRC successfully purchased the remaining 177 acres of this site in September 2012. The property is located near the town of Stayton and has two miles of North Santiam frontage, seven side channels/sloughs and frontage on the smaller Dieckman Creek. It is the most intact wetland assemblage within 50 square miles. The North Santiam is designated as a salmon stronghold for its high level of winter steelhead production. Historically, it was the largest producer of winter steelhead in the basin and the source of approximately one-third of spring Chinook salmon for the entire Willamette Basin. Besides the large number of aquatic species, four wildlife species of concern also call this property home: pileated woodpecker, hooded merganser, western pond turtle and red-legged frog.

Purchasing and restoring land along the North Santiam River is a critical step for native fish and wildlife, and will aid in the recovery of upper Willamette River Chinook salmon (Threatened), winter steelhead (Threatened) and Oregon Chub (Endangered). WRC is hopeful that this first acquisition along the North Santiam will lead to the conservation of additional properties with high quality habitat and good restoration potential.

Oregon’s Alsea River and Drift Creek:

This autumn, Western Rivers Conservancy will convey 287 acres of prime estuarine lands on Alsea River Bay to the Siuslaw National Forest. The property is the missing link adjacent to 1,400 acres WRC protected in 2002, extending five miles up Drift Creek through moss-draped forests and to a waterfall.

Once the largest powerhouse of coho production in the state, these habitats provide just what young salmon need to survive and grow, and in rare abundance — winding sloughs, wetlands and salty backwater areas full of eelgrass. Still, restoration was needed to reconnect complex tidal channels that had been blocked for dairy farming. WRC negotiated with two forest products companies to buy the lands, enabling a large-scale coho restoration effort by the U.S. Forest Service and partners.

Now each year when the salmon return — not just coho, but also some of the state’s healthiest runs of Chinook, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout — this restored habitat will be waiting for them.

Conclusion

With the support of GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy is expanding our efforts to protect riverlands for fish, wildlife and people. Please contact David Wilkins at 503-241-0151, ext. 214 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) with any questions or for further information. Thank you.


Attachments:
Jul 24, 2012

Western Rivers Conservancy: Summer 2012 Report

With backing from GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) is buying land along outstanding rivers across the western United States. Your gift supports the essential operating costs of purchasing land and placing properties into permanent conservation stewardship. Your contribution is dedicated to such activities as: developing relationships with willing seller landowners; preserving salmon and wildlife habitat; and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.           

Thanks to your contribution, we have recently:   

- Conserved 400 acres along a great Colorado stream.

- Protected a vital fish and wildlife habitat corridor in northern California’s Sierra Nevada.

 

Colorado’s Gunnison River: Expanding a National Conservation Area in Colorado's High Desert

 In June 2012, Western Rivers Conservancy successfully conveyed 400 acres along Colorado’s Gunnison River to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), permanently protecting a property that was threatened by gravel mining and expanding the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area (NCA).

One of the great tributaries to the Colorado River, and the second largest river in Colorado, the Gunnison sweeps past rocky bluffs, desert slopes and riparian thickets of cottonwood. This is one of the few places where four species of Colorado Basin warm-water fish still survive: Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, bonytail chub and razorback sucker. The property, located at the entrance to the NCA, will help protect sensitive fish and wildlife habitat as well as create a public resource for hikers, floaters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The NCA was designated by the BLM in 2009 and includes 66,280 acres of outstanding ecological and cultural resources including ancient fossil beds, red rock canyons and desert flora and fauna. WRC began securing critical portions of land in this region in 2010 with a 214-acre inholding purchase within the BLM-managed Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area, just downstream from the NCA.

 

California’s Deer Creek: Conserving a Vital Link in the Sierra Nevada

In the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, Deer Creek winds through more than 50 miles of chaparral, blue oak groves and grassy hills. A haven for fish and wildlife, it is significant for its dam-free length, undeveloped stretches and breathtaking scenery. Deer Creek is also one of the precious few rivers that hold hope for restoring the Sacramento River’s endangered salmon and steelhead runs.

In March 2012, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) conveyed 600 acres along Deer Creek to the Northern California Regional Land Trust, permanently protecting the spectacular Lower Deer Creek Falls and completing a continuous fish and wildlife habitat corridor between the Lassen National Forest and the Ishi Wilderness Area. The property, purchased by WRC in 2009, received permanent funding from California’s Wildlife Conservation Board, a division of the California Department of Fish and Game, in December 2011.

In addition to important habitat, Deer Creek is an outstanding outlet for nature enthusiasts, hikers and recreationists alike, attracting thousands of visitors each year. Conveying this property into conservation stewardship will expand visitor access to hiking trails and waterfalls. The property connects to a complex of trails, including the trail to Lower Deer Creek Falls.

 

Conclusion

With the support of GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy is expanding our efforts to protect riverlands for fish, wildlife and people. Please contact David Wilkins at 503-241-0151, ext. 214 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) with any questions or for further information. Thank you.


Attachments:
 
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