Apply to Join
Jun 28, 2017

Western Rivers Conservancy: Summer 2017 Report

South Fork Scott - Nate Wilson Photo
South Fork Scott - Nate Wilson Photo

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:   

  • Returning Water to the South Fork Scott for Imperiled Coho Salmon
  • Permanently Protecting the Swiftwater Park on Oregon’s North Umpqua

California’s Scott River:   

Building on our work in California’s Klamath River basin, Western Rivers Conservancy has embarked on an effort to improve stream flows within the South Fork Scott, the largest, cleanest and coldest tributary to the Scott River. The Scott flows to the Klamath and is the state’s single most important stream for native coho salmon, which are threatened or endangered throughout California and Oregon.

The Scott River produces more native coho than any stream in California, yet their numbers are so low, many fear coho could become extinct within the river barring meaningful, ongoing recovery work. To that effect, state and federal agencies and organizations have invested heavily in improving habitat within the South Fork and mainstem Scott rivers. This work has been crucial for the Scott and its fish, but its long-term success hinges upon one key ingredient: water.

The Scott is vital to coho because of its clear water, abundant spawning beds and lack of mainstem dams to impede fish migration. But the Scott and its fish—which include Chinook and steelhead—face a myriad of challenges, from water diversion and diking to deforestation and drought. The latter, which has been ongoing in California until just this year, has taken a tremendous toll on salmon. Frequently, there is simply too little water in the river and its tributaries to sustain healthy populations of spawning, holding and rearing fish. Our goal is to change that.

WRC purchased a property called the Bouvier Ranch and gained control of a critical water right on the South Fork Scott River. Control of that right will allow us to keep more water in-stream during summer to benefit coho, Chinook salmon and steelhead. Adjusting the irrigation schedule may increase summer-time flows in the South Fork by up to 20 percent, exactly when the river and its fish need those flows the most.

WRC’s purchase of the Bouvier Ranch will also allow us to conserve two miles of designated Critical Habitat for southern Oregon/northern California Coast coho. Combined with our rare opportunity to return water to the South Fork Scott, this will be a major step in the right direction for the Scott River and its fish. We are now working with local organizations to identify the best long-term steward to manage the lands as working lands, with conservation and public access the top priority.

Our efforts at the Bouvier Ranch also provide the opportunity for WRC to protect a viewshed on the Pacific Crest Trail by acquiring a nearby property that has been a top priority for the Pacific Crest Trail Association for years. The PCT skirts this property at the northeast edge of the Trinity Alps Wilderness before crossing the South Fork Scott River, upstream of the Bouvier Ranch. Our hope is to protect the views that make the PCT so scenic while ensuring the river that hikers encounter is healthy both for people and the salmon that return each year to spawn.

Oregon’s North Umpqua:  

Two years ago, the future was uncertain for Douglas County’s Swiftwater Park on Oregon’s North Umpqua River. The 211-acre park controls the western end of the 79-mile North Umpqua National Recreation Trail, at the beginning of some of the most coveted fly fishing water in the West. It also harbors stands of ancient forest, prime habitat for salmon and steelhead and over a mile of river frontage. When the county was forced to sell the park, Western Rivers Conservancy stepped in to buy it, ensuring this reach of the North Umpqua remains protected, rather than harvested or developed, and open to the public forever.

The Umpqua and Rogue are the only two coastal rivers in Oregon with headwaters in the Cascade Range. All other coastal rivers rise in the lower-elevation Coast Range. Fed by snowmelt, the North Umpqua flows clean and cold year-round, its chilly emerald waters a contrast to the nearby rivers that warm dramatically in summer. This anomaly is what makes the North Umpqua so crucial to cold-water fish, including Chinook and coho salmon, sea-run cutthroat and summer and winter steelhead.

WRC completed the project this month when we conveyed the lands to the Bureau of Land Management for inclusion and protection within the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River Corridor. This was WRC’s first effort on the North Umpqua, and we are now working to conserve additional reaches of this vitally important West Coast river.

Conclusion

The South Fork Scott and the North Umpqua River Projects are two of our recent successes. WRC currently has 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.

We love to hear from our supporters. Please contact Anne Tattam at 503-241-0151, ext. 219 (or atattam@westernrivers.org) for further information. Thank you.

North Umpqua River - Tyler Roemer photo
North Umpqua River - Tyler Roemer photo

Attachments:
Mar 30, 2017

WRC Makes Final Purchase to Save Blue Creek

Blue Creek, photo by Dave Jensen
Blue Creek, photo by Dave Jensen

Almost There! WRC Makes Final Purchase to Save Blue Creek

In northern California, Western Rivers Conservancy has purchased the final 8,582 acres in our effort to forever protect Blue Creek, the lifeline of the Klamath River. This extraordinary step puts us within striking distance of completing the Blue Creek Salmon Sanctuary and Yurok Tribal Community Forest, a 73 square-mile preserve in the heart of redwood country. WRC is now working to convey the land to the Yurok people for permanent conservation.

The centerpiece of this historic effort is Blue Creek, the most important cold-water tributary to the Klamath River. Nearly all salmon and steelhead that return to the Klamath River hold at Blue Creek, lowering their body temperature enough to survive the journey inland to spawn. The Klamath is getting progressively warmer, and the refuge that Blue Creek provides is crucial, especially for summer and fall-run fish that return when the river can be lethally warm.

The Klamath River is the third largest salmon stream on the West Coast. Without Blue Creek and the cold water it provides, the Klamath’s salmon runs would likely perish. Given the stream’s importance, WRC has been working in partnership with the Yurok people and Green Diamond Resource Company, the former owner of the lower Blue Creek watershed, to conserve 47,000 acres of temperate rainforest by returning it to the Yurok, who will manage the lands for the sake of fish and wildlife. Blue Creek is the crown jewel of the Yurok spiritual homeland, and the Tribe shares WRC’s conservation vision for Blue Creek and the Klamath River.

Once WRC conveys the land to the Yurok, Blue Creek will be conserved in its entirety. From its forested headwaters, which are already protected within the Siskiyou Wilderness, to its confluence with the Klamath River, Blue Creek will be a sanctuary for the incredible fish and wildlife that define this remote and wild stretch of the western United States. The final steps are underway, and with your continued support, we will make it happen.

Jan 3, 2017

Western Rivers Conservancy: Winter 2017 Report

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 more lands along Oregon’s Sandy River
  • Protecting a lifeline for spawning salmon on Idaho’s Salmon River and Pole Creek

Oregon’s Sandy River:

Western Rivers Conservancy protected another 120 acres of fish and wildlife habitat along Oregon’s Sandy River last month. With the completion of this project, WRC has now conserved over 4,500 acres along the Sandy and its tributaries, helping ensure that Portland’s backyard river stays healthy for generations to come.

The project protected nearly half a mile of Little Joe Creek, an important salmon and steelhead-bearing tributary to the Sandy River. The Sandy’s imperiled runs of winter steelhead, coho salmon and fall and spring Chinook are all listed under the Endangered Species Act. WRC’s efforts throughout the basin, including our work on Little Joe Creek, are conserving prime habitat for all of these fish.

Our efforts at Little Joe Creek also linked an existing county park with protected BLM lands, and will help the BLM expand its Sandy Ridge Trail System. Created in 2010, Sandy Ridge has become one of the country’s top mountain bike destinations.

WRC began its work on the Sandy River in 1999, when it partnered with Portland General Electric at the outset of the utility’s dam removals on the Sandy and Little Sandy Rivers. With the dams coming out, WRC committed to conserving 4,500 acres of prime riverland habitat in partnership with PGE. Since then, we have created an unprecedented conservation and recreation corridor on this outstanding glacial river, just 25 miles from downtown Portland. Much of the land we acquired from PGE is now managed by the BLM within a designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Although WRC has met its original goal of conserving 4,500 acres along the Sandy, we continue to seek out high-quality riverlands, where acquisition will allow us to protect more habitat for Oregon’s fish and wildlife. Whether you’re a bike ride or a full day day’s drive from the Sandy, we hope you’ll cheer this success. An important property along a remarkable western river has been conserved forever.

Idaho’s Salmon River and Pole Creek:  

Beneath the snowcapped peaks of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Western Rivers Conservancy has successfully conserved a mile of Pole Creek, one of the most important salmon spawning streams in the upper Salmon River basin.

Originating from sedimentary geology in the White Cloud range, Pole Creek carries a relatively high nutrient load that sustains diverse insect life and excellent riparian habitat. The result is outstanding spawning and rearing habitat for salmon, steelhead and bull trout in the headwaters of one of the greatest rivers in the West.

Knowing the importance of the stream, WRC set out to conserve this prime reach and bolster conservation efforts that have been underway for years. Pole Creek has been the focus of extensive restoration work by local and national nonprofits, local landowners and state and federal agencies. Millions of dollars have been invested in the stream to remove culverts, improve fish passage and increase flows during peak irrigation season, all with the intention of returning this exceptional stream to optimum health.

WRC contributed a critical piece of the puzzle by purchasing a 619-acre property along a mile of the creek and conveying it to the Sawtooth National Forest. The Forest Service has committed to restoring this stretch of the creek and will manage it for the sake of the Salmon River’s fish and wildlife, especially the recovery of imperiled salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Our efforts will eliminate future grazing in the stream’s sensitive riparian areas and prevent development along this key reach of the creek. The project also protects a short reach of the mainstem Salmon River itself.

WRC has long been drawn to the “River of No Return,” which flows through the largest wilderness areas in the Lower 48. The Salmon plays host to one of the greatest fish migrations on earth, a journey of more than 900 miles from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains. It is also one of the great river destinations of the West, with unparalleled boating, fishing, hiking, hunting and wildlife watching.

When viewed on the scale of the Salmon and Snake River basins as a whole, Pole Creek is but a tiny stream winding through the Sawtooth Valley, high in the system. But given its immense importance to the Salmon and Snake’s runs of anadromous fish, the impact of our efforts—and the support you provided to help us get the job done—will be far-reaching and permanent.

Conclusion

The Sandy River and the Salmon River/Pole Creek Projects are two of our recent successes. WRC currently has 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.

We love to hear from our supporters. Please contact Anne Tattam at 503-241-0151, ext. 219 (or atattam@westernrivers.org) for further information. Thank you.


Attachments:
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.