With backing from GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy is permanently protecting land along outstanding rivers across the western United States. Your gift supports the core costs of purchasing and conserving land for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people. Your contribution is dedicated to such efforts as preserving salmon and wildlife habitat, and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.
Thanks to your support, Western Rivers Conservancy is:
- Conserving a First Rate Trout Stream in Colorado
- Protecting habitat for Salmon and Steelhead in California’s Wine Country
Colorado’s Rio de Los Pinos:
Completing our efforts on the Rio de Los Pinos, Western Rivers Conservancy has permanently protected some of the finest trout water in Colorado. In fall 2018, we conveyed our second property on the Los Pinos to the Rio Grande National Forest, protecting an additional 260 acres of prime open space and securing public access to a stunning stretch fly fishing water. Combined with the adjacent parcel we conserved last year, the land traces more than a mile of the Rio de Los Pinos along some its most accessible reaches, just off Highway 17, northeast of Chama, New Mexico.
The Los Pinos is a gem of a trout stream, with healthy populations of brown and rainbow trout. Native Rio Grande cutthroat once thrived here, and the river’s excellent cold-water habitat—including the reach that flows through these two properties—provides hope that these imperiled fish may one day be reintroduced.
Flowing from a series of alpine lakes in the San Juan Mountains, the Los Pinos tumbles through conifer forests, lush meadows and granite canyons over its 40-mile course. It loops into New Mexico before crossing back into Colorado and eventually feeds into the San Luis Valley of the Rio Grande.
Near Cumbres Pass, the Los Pinos enters a small, perched valley and slows to a broad meander, hemmed by open meadows and forests of spruce and fir, and an 1880s-era narrow-gauge train—the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad—carries sightseers up and down the valley.
The valley’s unbroken natural beauty is highly desirable for subdivision and home construction. One of the largest blocks of private frontage near Cumbres Pass was owned by a family with deep, multi-generational ties to the San Luis Valley. The family wished to see their former summer pasture lands, which include wetlands and other features that attract migratory birds in spring and fall, permanently conserved as open space. WRC committed to protecting the properties, helping the family ensure these lands were permanently conserved.
We purchased both parcels, and with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, conveyed the lands to the adjacent Rio Grande National Forest. Rather than being subdivided and developed, the properties will now remain intact, providing habitat for fish and wildlife and sustaining the hope that Rio Grande cutthroat can one day be reintroduced to the Rio de Los Pinos.
California’s Gualala River:
At the edge of Northern California’s wine country, Western Rivers Conservancy has launched an effort to protect a rare swath of old-growth redwood forest and rolling oak woodlands along the Wheatfield Fork Gualala River. The Wheatfield Fork is the largest of three major tributaries of the main-stem Gualala, one of the state’s most important and still-viable salmon and steelhead rivers.
The Wheatfield Fork, which meets the South Fork Gualala near the coastal town of Gualala, provides cold water and vital habitat for winter steelhead and coho salmon, populations that are dwindling throughout California. Like all forks of the Gualala, the Wheatfield Fork also supports abundant wildlife in an area that is threatened by vineyard and residential development.
Upstream from the town of Gualala, we are working to place a conservation easement on an extraordinary property—the 4,344-acre Silva Ranch. Conservation of the ranch will protect an important reach of the Wheatfield Fork as well as a series of cold tributary streams that flow through the property—more than six miles of fish-bearing streams in all. Our efforts will also protect 41 acres of majestic old-growth redwood trees and a landscape of rolling oak woodlands, grasslands and mixed conifer forest.
With its prime location and potential for more than 20 home sites, the ranch is highly vulnerable to both building development and intensive grape production. Instead, the conservation easement will forever protect the property’s ancient redwoods, its burbling fresh-water streams and rare oak studded chaparral that are so important to the region’s fish and wildlife. At the same time, roughly five percent of the ranch will be reserved for limited development or small-scale agriculture so the family can continue to earn a living, making the project viable and a true win-win for all.
The Silva Ranch is especially important because it lies next to 75,000 acres of already protected lands. Adding it to this assemblage will connect key habitats and multiply the benefits for fish and wildlife on a scale far greater than the property itself.
The future of coho and steelhead in California depends on rivers like the Gualala. The river harbors one of the southernmost runs of Northern California Steelhead, a threatened population. The Gualala River is also critical to the state’s recovery strategy for Central California Coast Coho, a distinct unit of endangered salmon. The Gualala Roach, a small minnow endemic to its namesake river, will also benefit from our conservation of the Silva Ranch.
Additionally, the property’s old growth redwoods provide superb habitat for threatened northern spotted owl. Bald eagles, red-legged frogs, tiger salamanders and a host of other animals that define Northern California all inhabit the ranch. Given the tremendous biological value of the property, our effort enjoys strong local and state support, and the state of California has dedicated funding to ensure the project’s success.
WRC anticipates placing the conservation easement on the ranch in the next year. Once we do, California’s redwood coast will have another critical refuge for native fish and wildlife, an outcome that meets the needs of conservation, a great river, family agriculture and California alike.
The Rio de Los Pinos and the Gualala projects are just some of our recent successes. WRC currently has over two dozen active projects in six states. With the support of GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy is expanding our efforts to protect riverlands for fish, wildlife and people. Attachments:
We love to hear from our supporters. Please contact Anne Tattam at 503-241-0151, ext. 219 (or firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information. Thank you.