Jul 5, 2016

Western Rivers Conservancy: Summer 2016 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:   

  • One Step Closer to Completing the Blue Creek Sanctuary on California’s Klamath River and Blue Creek
  • Conserving Another Prime Reach of Oregon’s North Santiam River

California’s Klamath River and Blue Creek:

Thanks to a generous show of support during our 2015 crowdfunding campaign and a $1 million grant from the Kendeda Fund, Western Rivers Conservancy is one step closer to saving Blue Creek! The contributions allowed us to purchase another 562 acres of coastal temperate rain forest in the heart of the California redwoods. This is exciting headway in our effort to bring the final 10,000 acres of land into the 47,000-acre Blue Creek Salmon Sanctuary and Yurok Tribal Community Forest.

Our partners on the ground at Blue Creek are the Yurok people, who have deep cultural, spiritual and economic ties to Blue Creek and the Klamath River. Once our efforts are complete and WRC has conveyed the lands to the Tribe, the Yurok will regain the crown jewel of their spiritual homeland: Blue Creek. The Yurok will then manage the entire lower Blue Creek watershed to enhance recovery of salmon, steelhead and imperiled wildlife of the Klamath-Siskiyou.

WRC has been working to save Blue Creek for more than eight years, and we are now over 80% of the way there. But there is still much work to be done. The cost of purchasing the remaining lands is over $15 million. We hope to raise this through multiple sources, including foundations, individuals, corporations and state and federal funding. The role of individual support in this effort is pivotal, and we’re tremendously grateful to all who have contributed to WRC and our campaigns to save Blue Creek.

There are very few places like this on Earth. The Klamath-Siskiyou is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, home to a vast array of plant and animal life. The region is drained by some of the most extraordinary rivers in the West, including the Rogue, the Illinois, the Smith, the Chetco and the third largest salmon stream on the West Coast, the Klamath River. The Klamath remains the most recoverable of all the West’s great salmon rivers, and the key to ensuring its long-term survival is Blue Creek.

 

Oregon’s North Santiam River:  

In western Oregon, another great reach of Willamette Valley fish and wildlife habitat has been forever protected. We recently purchased and conveyed into permanent stewardship our third property on Oregon’s lower North Santiam River, an effort that is conserving over 2.5 miles of outstanding river and side-channel habitat along this key Willamette River tributary.

WRC’s protection of 411 acres comes on the heels of two previous acquisitions that conserved 429 acres and over 2.5 miles of river, side-channel and wetland habitat on the North Santiam. Our partner in all three of these acquisitions is the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, who also steward the riverlands that WRC conveyed to the Tribe in 2013 and 2014. With this third conveyance, 840 acres and more than five miles of river and side-channel habitat will be forever protected for the sake of fish and wildlife.

The North Santiam has always been a powerhouse of salmon and steelhead production in the Willamette Valley. It once produced two-thirds of the Willamette’s winter steelhead run and a third of its spring Chinook. Today, both species listed are as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and habitat protection and restoration is vital to their recovery.

The importance of these projects to salmon and steelhead is only part of the story. As with our earlier efforts, this acquisition will protect seasonally flooded wetlands and magnificent swaths of both closed- and open-canopy forest. Stands such as the ones found on these properties are increasingly rare in the Willamette Valley and provide important habitat for numerous at-risk and listed wildlife species, including pileated woodpecker, hooded merganser, western pond turtle and red-legged frog.

Conclusion

The Klamath River and North Santiam River 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:
Apr 5, 2016

Western Rivers Conservancy: Spring 2016 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 a riverland oasis in California’s Mojave Desert
  • Boosting efforts to recover a crucial tributary to Idaho’s Salmon River

California’s Mojave River:

In December 2015, Western Rivers Conservancy purchased 1,640 acres along one of Southern California’s most imperiled streams: The Mojave River. In a region stressed by ongoing drought and where residential development continues to chisel away at sensitive desert habitat, the Mojave River is a lifeline. It provides the only significant corridor of riparian habitat in the western Mojave Desert.

The Mojave is unlike most rivers in that it flows underground for much of its length. Even when it flows subsurface, however, the river nourishes important habitat for imperiled southern California animals. But the rare stretches of the Mojave that flow above ground create the most fertile and important habitat of all.

Between the towns of Victorville and Helendale, the underlying geology forces the Mojave River to the surface, and year-round flows nourish a lush 15-mile corridor of cottonwoods and willows. This oasis in the Mojave Desert, known as the Transition Zone, is where WRC is focusing its efforts. The ranch we acquired contains the most significant stand of riparian habitat within this unique stretch of the Mojave.

Protection of the Mojave, especially where it flows above ground, is crucial to the recovery of numerous imperiled bird species, including endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, endangered least Bell’s vireo and threatened yellow-billed cuckoo. It is also critical to the recovery of the endangered Mojave tui chub. Conservation of the ranch will support populations of migratory birds and several California species of special concern, including the Mojave River vole, southwestern pond turtle, brown-crested flycatcher, long-eared owl, summer tanager and yellow warbler.

Now that we have acquired the ranch, we are working to convey it to the Helendale Community Services District so the lands can be managed as a reserve with low-impact public use. The property has long been a target for conservation by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the State of California and local and national conservation organizations. Our purchase of these lands will finally make this a reality and ensure that this vital reach of the Mojave River is permanently conserved.

Idaho’s Salmon River and Pole Creek:  

Idaho’s Salmon River plays host to one of the greatest fish migrations on earth, a journey of more than 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. As if distance weren’t enough, humans threw in eight dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, which salmon and steelhead must navigate before they even reach the Salmon River. After their epic journey, these fish finally reach their natal streams in the headwaters of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Up here, the snowcapped Sawtooths tower over small tributary streams that provide crucial habitat for chinook and sockeye salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

In spring 2016, Western Rivers Conservancy launched an effort on Pole Creek, a key tributary to the Salmon River with extensive designated Critical Habitat for Chinook, steelhead and bull trout. WRC purchased 620 acres near the confluence of Pole Creek and the Salmon River, an acquisition that will protect more than a mile of the creek and a stretch of the main-stem Salmon itself.

Pole Creek’s unique geology is what makes the stream especially important. Unlike tributaries on the western side of the Sawtooth Valley, which have granite streambeds, Pole Creek is sedimentary and volcanic in origin, which means more nutrients for insects and riparian life. The Sawtooth National Forest has ranked Pole Creek its highest priority for recovery due to this richness of habitat and its potential for restoration. There has also been a major effort among state and federal agencies, organizations and local landowners to improve fish passage and increase flows in the stream during peak irrigation season.

WRC’s purchase of these lands builds on these extensive conservation efforts. Habitat quality within the creek is on the upswing, and protecting the stream’s sensitive riparian areas is crucial to preventing setbacks to the conservation investments already made. By conserving the property, we can prevent future development along this key reach of the creek and eliminate grazing in the riparian areas. And we will ensure that a mile of prime salmon and steelhead habitat is protected forever.

Conclusion

The Mojave River and Salmon River-Pole Creek 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 David Wilkins at 503-241-0151, ext. 214 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) for further information. Thank you.


Attachments:
Jan 8, 2016

Western Rivers Conservancy: Winter 2016 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 has:

  • Forever conserved a rare wildlife corridor along northeastern Washington’s Big Sheep Creek.
  • Completed a project along Oregon’s Catherine Creek, enabling restoration of 2.5 miles of top-priority salmon and steelhead habitat.

Washington’s Big Sheep Creek:

In the wild country of northeastern Washington, Western Rivers Conservancy has protected part of the primary route for grizzly bears and other large mammals to move between Canada and the United States: Big Sheep Creek.

Flowing south from Canada’s Monashee Mountains, Big Sheep Creek snakes through gentle, fertile terrain en route to the Columbia River, drawing an impressive array of wildlife through the valley to hunt and forage. Exceptional streamside habitat, ponds and hundreds of acres of wetlands anchor a thriving food chain from insects to carnivores.

At the heart of this movement corridor is the 2,440-acre Bennett Meadows property, which WRC purchased in 2014. We are excited to announce that, in December 2015, WRC conveyed the lands to the Colville National Forest for permanent conservation stewardship.

The property includes prime habitat for many charismatic and rarely seen animals, including more than half of Washington’s recovering grizzly bear population as well as moose, mountain lion, fox, pine marten and the elusive wolverine, an endangered species. On snowy mountainsides, Canada lynx, Rocky Mountain elk, mountain goats and bighorn sheep make their own route through the property, which also has suitable habitat for wolves.

This four-mile stretch of river is also home to imperiled redband rainbow trout, and it provides cold water and gravel to sustain threatened bull trout downstream.

Beyond fish and wildlife, the project offers tremendous recreational value. WRC’s efforts ensured access to a key reach of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. This 1,200-mile trail runs from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean and bisects the southern sector of the property. WRC’s acquisition of the parcel placed a unique stretch of the trail into public hands, improving wildlife viewing opportunities and helping ensure this recreational treasure remains public forever.


Oregon’s Catherine Creek:

The best hope for recovering imperiled Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead are high-quality tributaries where fish spawn and rear in large numbers. Perhaps the most stunning example of this is Catherine Creek in northeast Oregon, where WRC has just completed a game-changing project for a key wild run of Chinook salmon.

Catherine Creek pours cold and clear from the Wallowa Mountains and runs through the town of Union before entering the fabled Grande Ronde, a tributary to the Snake. It is a nurturing arm for the entire Snake River system and a top priority to recover the purest wild run of Snake River spring Chinook.

On its upper reaches in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Catherine Creek’s pristine spawning habitat is so productive that the creek’s lower, more developed stretches cannot support all of the young fish coming down to rear. Downstream, the creek is channelized and lacks the complex habitat of a healthy salmon stream. But that’s poised to change.

In 2014, Western Rivers Conservancy purchased 545 acres along this lower stretch to help revive this critical run of salmon. This fall, we conveyed the land to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which is using funding from the Bonneville Power Administration to extensively restore the original, winding channel of Catherine Creek. Additionally, the property’s water rights have been dedicated in-stream, helping ensure not only enough habitat but ample flows to support a strong comeback for Chinook and summer steelhead.

When restoration is complete, the project may tip the scales for some of the Pacific Northwest’s most fragile fish populations.

Conclusion

Big Sheep Creek and Catherine Creek 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 David Wilkins at 503-241-0151, ext. 214 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) for further information. Thank you.


Attachments:
 
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