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Apr 24, 2012

Western Rivers Conservancy Spring 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 in permanent conservation stewardship. Your contribution is dedicated to such activities as: developing relationships with willing seller landowners; preserving salmon and steel head habitat; and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.           

Thanks to your contribution, we are:

-        Protecting vital fish and wildlife habitat corridors in northern California’s Sierra Nevada.

-        Conserving access to one of the most beautiful river floats in Oregon.

California’s Mill and Deer Creeks: Conserving Vital Links in the Sierra Nevada

In the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, a few precious streams hold the hope of restoring the Sacramento River’s fishery. Among them are Mill and Deer Creeks. Flowing in adjoining watersheds from the slopes of Mount Lassen to the Sacramento Valley, these are two of the last streams in the northern Sierra Nevada that support Threatened runs of spring Chinook and winter steel head. Western Rivers Conservancy’s acquisitions along these streams are establishing continuous protected corridors for fish and wildlife, as well as new public recreational opportunities.

Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) has committed to purchasing 1,792 acres along Mill Creek, including two and a half miles of river frontage. Besides supporting Threatened fish species, the upper Mill Creek watershed boasts one of the largest stands of old-growth forest remaining in the northern Sierra, which is a haven for California spotted owls, Pacific fishers and wolverines. This project presents an unprecedented opportunity to protect the only private lands along 35 miles of Mill Creek between Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lassen National Forest and the Ishi Wilderness. WRC has helped the Lassen National Forest secure Land and Water Conservation Funds to purchase these in holdings.

WRC’s project also includes 640 acres in the Deer Creek watershed, just south of Mill Creek. Deer Creek winds through more than 50 miles of old-growth coniferous forest, chaparral, blue oak groves and grassy hills. In 2009, WRC began to conserve this vital link along Deer Creek when it purchased the Lower Deer Creek Falls property from Sierra Pacific Industries. In December, 2011, the California Wildlife Conservation Board approved funding that allowed WRC to convey this land to the Northern California Regional Land Trust for permanent conservation.

The Mill and Deer Creek watersheds are treasured by river runners, anglers and hikers, and attract thousands of visitors each year. Conserving these properties will improve access for hiking, fishing and whitewater kayaking. This project will also complete public ownership of the scenic Mill Creek Trail, which links Lassen National Forest to the Ishi Wilderness Area. The same can be said of the Deer Creek acquisition which is the missing link in a complex of trails that include the breathtaking Lower Deer Creek Falls.

Oregon’s Minam River: Prime Eastern Oregon River Access Forever Conserved

River recreationists will forever have access to one of the most beautiful river floats in Oregon. Situated at the confluence of the Minam and Wallowa Rivers, the Minam Store is a prized access point for river users, including anglers, hunters and especially boaters. The site is vital for reaching the majestic river canyon and launching multi-day family float trips on the Wild and Scenic Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers.

On March 1, 2012, Western Rivers Conservancy conveyed two acres, including the Minam Store property and 350 feet of river frontage, to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

The site sits adjacent to Minam State Recreation Area and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has long sought to bring the property into public ownership. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s permanent stewardship of the Minam Store property will result in continued public access and a protected waterway for fish, wildlife and people.

Conclusion

With the support of GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy is expanding our efforts to protect river lands for fish, wildlife and people. Please contact David Wilkins at 503-241-0151, ext. 14 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) with any questions or for further information. Thank you.

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Jan 25, 2012

Western Rivers Conservancy Winter 2012 Report

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

Thanks to your contributions, we are:

-  Conserving outstanding fish habitat in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

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

Oregon’s North Santiam 

Western Rivers Conservancy has set its sights on preserving one of the most important fisheries in Oregon’s Willamette basin: the North Santiam River. Fish in the basin are imperiled: upper Willamette River Chinook salmon and winter steelhead have both been listed as Threatened, and Oregon Chub is listed as Endangered. On December 21, 2011, Western Rivers Conservancy took an important step toward restoring these runs by purchasing the first 161 acres of a 338-acre property. This acquisition will protect critical fish, wildlife and plant habitat along the North Santiam River, a vital Willamette River tributary.

The North Santiam River features some of the best remaining salmon, steelhead, trout and chub habitat in the Willamette basin. Currently, the North Santiam is designated as a salmon stronghold for its high level of winter steelhead production. Historically, it is the largest producer of winter steelhead in the entire Willamette basin and is the source of approximately one-third of spring Chinook salmon.

The property WRC purchased 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 riparian assemblage within 50 square miles. Besides the large number of aquatic species, four wildlife species of concern also call this property home: the pileated woodpecker, hooded merganser, western pond turtle and red-legged frog.

Purchasing and restoring this property along the North Santiam River is a critical step for native fish and wildlife, and will aid in the recovery of listed species in the Willamette basin. WRC is hopeful that this first purchase along the North Santiam will lead to the conservation of additional properties with high-quality habitat.

California’s Deer Creek

In the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, Deer Creek flow for more than 50 dam-free miles, winding through chaparral, blue oak groves and grassy hills. A rarity in California for its strong runs of steelhead and spring Chinook, Deer Creek is also one of the precious few rivers that hold hope for restoring the Sacramento River’s endangered salmon and steelhead runs. On December 8, 2011, California’s Wildlife Conservation Board approved funding that will allow Western Rivers Conservancy to forever conserve 600 acres along this creek, including Lower Deer Creek Falls.

WRC purchased the Lower Deer Creek Falls property from Sierra Pacific Industries in 2009. In 2012, WRC will convey the land to the Northern California Regional Land Trust for permanent conservation. Bringing the lands along Deer Creek into public ownership will complete a continuous fish and wildlife habitat corridor between the Lassen National Forest and Ishi Wilderness.

In addition to protecting important fish and wildlife habitat, conveying this property into conservation stewardship will enhance public access to the area’s hiking trails, waterfalls and whitewater boating. The property connects to a complex of trails, including the trail to the breathtaking 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. 14 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) with any questions or for further information. Thank you.

Links:


Attachments:
Oct 31, 2011

Western Rivers Conservancy Fall 2011 Report

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

Thanks to your contributions, we are: 

-          Creating Oregon’s largest state park.

-          Expanding Utah’s Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

 

Oregon’s John Day River 

Conservationists and recreationists alike are rejoicing with the news that Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) have permanently conserved more than 16,000 acres along the John Day River. After three years of hard work, this site is officially on its way to becoming Oregon’s largest state park, Cottonwood Canyon.

When this important property came up for sale in 2008, WRC recognized the property’s importance for fish, wildlife and people, and purchased the 8,114-acre Murtha Ranch, along with its 8,000-acre BLM grazing lease. WRC has been conveying the 16-mile stretch of river to OPRD in installments since 2009. The final conveyance of 3,329 acres was completed on October 13, 2011.

As the Pacific Northwest’s longest undammed river and the nation’s longest Wild and Scenic River corridor, the John Day River is truly an extraordinary river. The river not only boasts the healthiest run of wild summer steelhead in the Columbia basin, where they are listed as Threatened, but also runs of wild fall and spring Chinook and bull trout. The acquisition also includes the bottom three miles of Hay Creek, a tributary that summer steelhead depend on to spawn and rear because it runs cold and clear year round.

WRC is a land acquisition specialist. With this project, we adapted our approach and implemented a comprehensive restoration effort. Since purchasing the land, WRC has been working with OPRD, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, local volunteers and school groups to eradicate noxious weeds, replant native grasses and complete fencing along riparian areas. Restoring the native shrub-steppe ecosystem will enhance habitat for a number of rare, native species including: ground-nesting birds like the grasshopper sparrow and burrowing owl; birds of prey like the ferruginous hawk and loggerhead shrike; and reptiles like the sagebrush lizard.

Conserving the ranch is an important step for the John Day River fishery and a great opportunity to enhance low-impact recreation, including fishing, boating, hiking and hunting. OPRD shares WRC’s vision to protect sensitive and diverse habitats while enabling public access, and is an ideal long-term steward if the property. The new Cottonwood Canyon State Park is scheduled to open in 2013.

Utah’s Bear River

An effort to expand the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, protecting critical marsh land and waterfowl habitat, was successfully completed when Western Rivers Conservancy conveyed 580 acres of land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in September, 2011.

The marshes at the mouth of the Bear River are the largest freshwater component of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and among the top producers of waterfowl in the country. In the middle of the desert, this freshwater oasis is a phenomenal gathering place for birds to rest, feed, nest and rear their young. Set aside by the public in 1929, this 74,000-acre refuge sees more than 200 species and millions of birds throughout the year. WRC purchased the Lucky Seven-Pintail Club in 2011. Under the stewardship of the USFWS, these lands will be restored to even greater health for species like geese, tundra swan, American pelican and snowy plovers.

Previously, WRC conveyed the 696-acre Feather and Finn property to the Refuge in 2010. Together, these properties will expand the Refuge’s protected habitat, environmental education opportunities and overall visitor experience.

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. 14 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) with any questions or for further information. Thank you.


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