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Jul 28, 2011

Western Rivers Conservancy Summer 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 donation 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:

-          Working to expand Utah’s Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

-          Acquiring land along the lower Gunnison River on the outskirts of Grand Junction, Colorado.

-          Launching a project to protect threatened salmon on the North Santiam River in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Utah’s Bear River

Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) is working in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Friends of the Bear River Refuge to expand the footprint of the 74,000-acre Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah’s Great Salt Lake ecosystem.

The Bear River carries snow melt down from three Rocky Mountain states and supplies the Great Salt Lake with 60 percent of its fresh water. Where it meets the Great Salt Lake, the Bear River spreads in a vast delta. An oasis in the desert, these marshes provide resting areas and abundant food for more than 200 bird species migrating along the Pacific and Central Flyways between Mexico and Canada. The millions of feathered visitors that congregate here eventually spread out over the Western Hemisphere and beyond.

In June 2011, WRC purchased the 600-acre Lucky Seven-Pintail Club. Our purchase secures immediate protection for these wetlands, which will now be restored to even greater health for species like tundra swan, black-necked stilt, snowy plovers and marbled godwits. WRC will convey the property to the USFWS to add to the refuge.

This most recent acquisition builds on WRC’s 2010 conveyance of the nearby Feather and Finn property to the Refuge. Together, these acquisitions enhance waterfowl habitat by protecting open water areas adjacent to grasslands and sheltered nesting sites.

Colorado’s Gunnison River

Western Rivers Conservancy purchased an additional three miles of Gunnison River frontage in May 2011, which will help ensure the survival of rare desert fish.

The 403-acre property was threatened by gravel mining, but now will be protected within the surrounding Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area (NCA). Keeping this stretch of waterway healthy and its habitats intact is critically important to four rare warm-water species: humpback and bonytail chub, Colorado pikeminow and razorback sucker.

This purchase complements 131 acres that we recently bought several miles downstream, adjacent to the Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area near Grand Junction. Both properties fill in a nearly unbroken stretch of protected lands from the NCA to the Colorado National Monument. This reach of river also offers an exceptional gentle-water river float through gorgeous deep canyons.

Oregon’s North Santiam River

Western Rivers is expanding its efforts in the Willamette Valley by agreeing to purchase nearly 350 acres on the North Santiam River, a major tributary of the Willamette River.

Historically, the North Santiam was the largest producer of Willamette Basin winter steelhead and the source of approximately one-third of spring Chinook salmon. Today, those runs are in danger. Both species are now listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Oregon Chub, a native resident fish, is also listed as Endangered in the Willamette Basin. While the Willamette is highly degraded, some of the Basin’s best remaining salmon, steelhead, trout and chub habitat is found in the North Santiam below Big Cliff Dam. The North Santiam is also home to important resident populations of native Santiam cutthroat and rainbow trout.

The property has more than two miles of North Santiam frontage and includes seven side channels and sloughs, as well as portions of Dieckman Creek. The property contains intact wetland and complex native prairie, and has good floodplain habitat restoration opportunities.

Purchase and restoration of this land will be a big step forward for native fish and wildlife and will aid recovery of listed species in the Willamette Basin. This effort will protect open space and provide angler access and wildlife viewing within sixty miles of downtown Portland.

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.


Attachments:
Apr 29, 2011

Western Rivers Conservancy Spring 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 donation is dedicated to such activities as: developing relationships with willing seller landowners; restoring salmon and steelhead habitat; and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.       

Thanks to your contributions, we are:

-          Making major gains in our work to establish a major sanctuary for fish, wildlife and people along Blue Creek   and the lower Klamath River.

-          Working to protect tributaries of Nason Creek, a critical portion of the Wenatchee River System in central Washington.

-          Securing boater access to the Wild and Scenic Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers.

California’s Lower Klamath River

Western Rivers Conservancy has reached a major milestone in our partnership with the Yurok Tribe on the lower Klamath River. On April 14, 2011, the Yurok Tribe, working with WRC, completed purchase of 22,237 acres from Green Diamond Resource Company in Humboldt County. Covering more than 34 square miles, the land is part of the Yurok’s ancestral territory, and will be sustainably managed as part of the Yurok Tribal Community Forest.

The Yurok’s sustainable forestry management approach will significantly improve water quality and fish habitat along three lower Klamath tributaries: Pecwan, Ke’pel and Weitchpec Creeks. The Tribe's approach to forestry will also enhance and maintain suitable habitat for several federally-listed and candidate species, including: marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, fisher, Humboldt marten and mardon skipper. Forests and rivers in the project area will benefit from species diversity, fewer roads, wider stream buffers and carbon reserves.

In addition to being an unprecedented conservation achievement, this is also a major cultural accomplishment. The Yurok Tribe has long sought to regain this ancestral territory to rejuvenate tribal cultural practices, including subsistence fishing, hunting, gathering and traditional basket-weaving.

Ultimately, Western Rivers Conservancy’s vision will be complete with the protection of Blue Creek. We will purchase an additional 25,000 acres, including the entire lower Blue Creek Watershed, so it can be set aside as a salmon sanctuary and Yurok Tribal Preserve. Blue Creek is not only sacred to the Yurok people, it is a coldwater haven for salmon when water temperatures rise in the main-stem Klamath. Blue Creek is predicted to stay colder longer in the face of climate change, providing crucial habitat for the survival of native Chinook, coho, steelhead, cutthroat trout and other species. Protecting the lower part of Blue Creek will complement its protected headwaters in the Siskiyou Wilderness.

Washington’s Nason Creek

Western Rivers Conservancy is once again working to protect critical portions of the Wenatchee River system in central Washington.

In January 2011, WRC signed an agreement with Longview Timber to purchase 648 acres of forested land in the Nason Creek watershed. Nason Creek is a Wenatchee River tributary that provides habitat for spring Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. With steep, forested slopes adjacent to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, the parcel contains two tributaries that contribute to Nason Creek’s water quality.

An important fisheries restoration project is already underway on Nason Creek. Several agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Chelan County and others, are working to move Nason Creek back into its original channel by reconnecting oxbows just downstream from this property. This will improve the stream’s hydrology and provide enhanced salmon and steelhead habitat in channels that have been severed from Nason Creek since the construction of the Great Northern Railroad in the 1800s.

Purchasing the Nason Creek property, an inholding of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, will help maintain aquatic habitat adjacent to the channel restoration efforts while also conserving a vulnerable hillside adjoining the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. Without the land purchase, the ecological integrity of Nason Creek and the Wilderness would be threatened. The acquisition will also preserve scenic views from Highway 2 and provide the opportunity for new trail access into the Wilderness, where popular activities include hiking, camping, fishing, wildlife viewing and cross-country skiing.

The purchase agreement is exciting news, as WRC’s work to preserve habitat in the larger Wenatchee system spans two decades. Our previous projects on the Little Wenatchee River and Icicle Creek, two other tributaries, contributed to the protection of critical spawning grounds for the only healthy sockeye salmon run remaining in the Northwest.

Oregon’s Minam River

Prized access to one of the most beautiful river floats in Oregon was secured in April 2011 when Western Rivers Conservancy purchased the Minam Store property.

WRC acquired the two-acre parcel at the Wallowa-Minam Rivers confluence from a private owner. The site is well-known to boaters as a convenient launching point for spectacular multi-day family floating trips on the Wild and Scenic Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers.

The site is adjacent to the Minam State Recreation Area, and will complement the hiking, fishing, hunting and camping opportunities available there. The picturesque canyon features beautiful wildflower displays and is home to an array of fish and wildlife.

Located just off of Highway 82, the parcel includes 350 feet of river frontage. WRC is working to lease the Minam Store building to a rafting outfitter so that services remain in full swing, including rentals, shuttles and supplies.

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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Attachments:
Jan 27, 2011

Western Rivers Conservancy Winter 2011 Report

With the support of GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy 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 donation is dedicated to such activities as: developing relationships with willing seller landowners; restoring salmon and steelhead habitat; and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.     

Thanks to your contributions, we are:

- Making major gains in our work to establish a major salmon sanctuary along Blue Creek, a vital coldwater    tributary to the lower Klamath River.

- Completing our first purchase on the Gunnison River in Colorado and moving forward with additional riverland acquisitions.

California’s Lower Klamath River

Western Rivers Conservancy has reached a major milestone in our partnership with the Yurok Tribe on the lower Klamath River. WRC has purchased the second installment of a 47,000-acre property that traces nearly 20 miles of the lower Klamath on California’s North Coast.

The goals of the project are twofold: to recreate the Yurok reservation as an economic and cultural base for the Tribe; and to establish the Yurok Tribal Preserve as a salmon sanctuary and safety net for fish and wildlife in the face of climate change.

In this phase, Western Rivers Conservancy is buying more than 4,000 acres from Green Diamond Resource Company, utilizing a loan from the Packard Foundation. This adds to 5,500 acres we purchased in 2009. Piece by piece, we are working together with the Tribe to assemble this large conservation acquisition, and making tremendous progress. The reward will be a salmon sanctuary preserved forever, and a cornerstone for restoring the greater Klamath River basin.

More work is ahead. In the coming months, WRC will purchase another 12,600 acres and convey the entire 22,200-acre assemblage to become a Yurok Tribal Community Forest. The Yurok’s sustainable forestry management approach will significantly improve water quality and fish habitat along three lower Klamath tributaries: Pecwan, Ke’pel and Weitchpec Creeks. The Tribe's approach to forestry will also enhance and maintain suitable habitat for several federally-listed and candidate species, including: marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, fisher, Humboldt marten and mardon skipper. Forests and rivers in the project area will benefit from species diversity, fewer roads, wider stream buffers and carbon reserves.

In addition to being an unprecedented conservation achievement, this will also be a major cultural accomplishment. The Yurok Tribe has long sought to regain this ancestral territory to rejuvenate tribal cultural practices, including subsistence fishing, hunting, gathering and traditional basket-weaving.

Ultimately, Western Rivers Conservancy’s vision will be complete with the protection of Blue Creek. We will purchase an additional 25,000 acres, including the entire lower Blue Creek Watershed, so it can be set aside as a salmon sanctuary and Yurok Tribal Preserve. Blue Creek is not only sacred to the Yurok people, it is a coldwater haven for salmon when water temperatures rise in the main-stem Klamath. Blue Creek is predicted to stay colder longer in the face of climate change, providing crucial habitat for the survival of native Chinook, coho, steelhead, cutthroat trout and other species. Protecting the lower part of Blue Creek will complement its protected headwaters in the Siskiyou Wilderness.

Colorado’s Gunnison River

The Gunnison is a vital branch of the Colorado River system, and a new and exciting focus area for Western Rivers Conservancy. With its long free-flowing length and habitat for rare flora and fauna, the Gunnison is a thread of life flowing through desert and rocky mountain canyonlands.

Below dams in its upper reaches, it carves one of the most exceptional canyons in the West at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument. Hikers, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to breathtaking scenery, rapids and fishing in this section, which is in Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction.

Along its lower reaches, the Gunnison’s gradient slows to sweep past rocky bluffs, desert slopes and riparian thickets of cottonwood. Western Rivers Conservancy has launched a multi-year land acquisition program along this area of the Gunnison River. In December 2010, we made our first land purchase along the Gunnison: 131 acres that lie within two inholdings of the BLM Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA), located just outside of Grand Junction. The acquisition of these two parcels will protect one river mile inside the SRMA. Acquisition of these parcels along the lower Gunnison within the SRMA will open the area to hiking, horseback riding and river access, while ensuring that the lands are publicly managed for wildlife and watershed protection. 

The land traces a lower reach of the river that is one of few places where four species of Colorado Basin warm-water fish still survive. Conserving this river frontage will help ensure the survival of endangered Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, bonytail chub and razorback sucker. When Western Rivers Conservancy conveys the land to the BLM, it will merge into the adjacent SRMA, enhancing recreational access to backcountry trails, rare desert plants and beautiful redrock canyons. This section is also one of few in the southern Rockies available for an extended trip of gentle-water canoeing.

Just upstream, we are obligated to purchase 403 acres along several miles of the Gunnison River – land that will become an expansion of the newly designated Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. Together, these acquisitions will conserve a critically important river landscape for endangered species, desert habitat and public enjoyment.

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.


Attachments:
 
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