Oct 8, 2015

Western Rivers Conservancy: Fall 2015 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:

   • Launched an effort to save a stretch of Oregon’s legendary North Umpqua River.

   • Expanded an effort to protect a salmon stronghold along the North Santiam River, a key Willamette River tributary.

Oregon’s North Umpqua River:

The North Umpqua River is one of Oregon’s great recreational treasures and one of the finest rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Flanked by the North Umpqua National Recreational Trail for most of its length, the river is accessible by foot or mountain bike for 79 miles, making it a haven for anglers, mountain bikers, hikers, backpackers and boaters. But what really sets the North Umpqua apart is its clean, cold water and its extraordinary fishery.

The North Umpqua is a legendary steelhead stream, steeped in fly fishing lore and revered by anglers from around the world. Thirty-three miles of the river are designated fly-fishing-only, and a long tradition of local conservation has helped ensure this remarkable stream stays healthy for fish. Today, the North Umpqua is one of the few designated Salmon Strongholds in Oregon, with healthy runs of spring Chinook, coho salmon and summer steelhead.

Thanks to efforts by anglers and other conservationists, the North Umpqua River is protected along much of its length by a number of designations, including the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River corridor, the Rogue-Umpqua National Scenic Byway, the North Umpqua Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA), the North Umpqua Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the Oregon State Scenic Waterway and the North Umpqua National Recreation Trail. Yet, despite this multitude of designations, parts of the North Umpqua remain at risk.

In summer 2015, Western Rivers Conservancy committed to purchase 211 acres of forest and a mile of North Umpqua riverfront at the head of the North Umpqua Trail and the gateway to the flyfishing-only section. The need arose when Douglas County, Oregon, concluded it had to sell Swiftwater County Park, a beautiful park with prime access to the river, an important trailhead and a largely unbroken stand of old-growth forest. Rather than let the parcel be logged or developed, WRC acted to acquire and conserve the property. Our goal is to convey the lands to BLM for inclusion and protection within the Wild and Scenic River corridor.

WRC’s acquisition, our first on the North Umpqua, will prevent timber harvest and development within the SRMA and ACEC, and keep a key reach of the National Recreation Trail in public ownership. The project will conserve large stands of old-growth Douglas fir, as well as sugar pine, incense cedar, western red cedar, white fir and western hemlock. In addition to the important role the forest plays in keeping water temperatures low, it harbors diverse wildlife, including northern spotted owl, bald eagle, Roosevelt elk, black bear, river otter and many others. The project will also protect high-quality gravel beds within the property that provide crucial spawning habitat for anadromous fish, including nearly a mile of designated Critical Habitat for Oregon coast coho, a threatened species.


Oregon’s North Santiam River:

The Willamette River and its vast floodplain were once a lacework of side channels, wetlands and wet prairies, with extensive bottomland forests that provided rich habitat for fish and wildlife. But today, after more than a century of development, Willamette Valley wetlands and native deciduous forests exist only in pockets, primarily along Willamette tributaries like Oregon’s North Santiam River.

In early 2015, Western Rivers Conservancy completed Chahalpam, a project that conserved 429 acres of forest and over 2.5 miles of the North Santiam and key side-channels that provide vital habitat for salmon, steelhead and other wildlife. Our partner in this effort was the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. We are now working with the Tribe to conserve another 411 acres of outstanding riverland habitat, upstream from Chahalpam. As with Chahalpam, funding for this project will be provided by the Bonneville Power Administration and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife through the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program.

This project is our third acquisition on the North Santiam and will protect nearly three miles of main-stem and side-channel frontage, as well as seasonally flooded wetlands and crucial swaths of both closed- and open-canopy forest. Native tree species like grand fir, western hemlock, Pacific yew, western red cedar, Oregon white oak and red alder will all be protected.

Once our work is complete, another outstanding stretch of this key Willamette River tributary will be forever conserved. When combined with our recent projects downstream, WRC and its partners will have protected over five miles of the North Santiam River, as well as vital side-channel frontage, wetland habitat and hundreds of acres of native forest.

Conclusion

The North Umpqua and North Santiam are two of our recent successes. WRC currently has two dozen active projects in seven 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:
Jul 10, 2015

Western Rivers Conservancy: Summer 2015 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:

• Expanded on a two-decade conservation effort that has preserved 17 miles of Oregon’s Sandy, Little Sandy, Bull Run and Salmon Rivers.

• Purchased the last piece of unprotected land along Arizona’s Fossil Creek, a tributary to the Verde River and one of only two Wild and Scenic Rivers in the state.

Oregon’s Sandy River:

Building upon a 20-year conservation effort that has protected 17 miles of Oregon’s Sandy, Little Sandy, Bull Run and Salmon Rivers, in July 2015, WRC will purchase a 120-acre tract of forest along Little Joe Creek, a coho and steelhead-bearing tributary to the Sandy. This is an important project for fish and creates a buffer of protected forest along a stretch of the Sandy Ridge Mountain Bike Trail, the country’s largest trail system built specifically for mountain bikes.

In the summer of 1999, Western Rivers Conservancy and Portland General Electric (PGE) formed a partnership to restore the Sandy and Little Sandy rivers to health. PGE carried out its plans to remove Marmot Dam on the main-stem Sandy in 2007 and the Little Sandy Dam in 2008, making the rivers completely free flowing. Complementing WRC’s acquisitions, PGE has also donated more than 1,000 acres of land to Western Rivers Conservancy over the course of the project. WRC has conveyed the vast majority of these lands to the BLM to conserve unprotected stretches of the Sandy and its tributaries.

To date, WRC has established a nearly 4,500-acre conservation and recreation area along the Sandy, Little Sandy, Salmon, Bull Run and other tributaries. The BLM is now working to incorporate the lands into an existing Area of Critical Environmental Concern, a conservation designation that will ensure these lands are managed for the sake of the Sandy’s imperiled fish and wildlife. Few cities the size of Portland feature such a world-class river park so well conserved near its urban hub.

Within the Columbia Basin, the Sandy River system is crucial for its runs of wild salmon and steelhead and is unmatched as an easily-accessible recreation destination for people in and around the Portland area. From its headwaters to the Columbia River, the Sandy offers outstanding fishing, biking, boating, hiking and wildlife watching opportunities year-round.

WRC is excited to add this key property to the assemblage of riverlands we have been working to conserve for two decades. For people, and for the region’s unique and imperiled fish and wildlife, the Sandy is immeasurably important—and we will keep on working to protect it.

 

Arizona’s Fossil Creek:

Western Rivers Conservancy has purchased the last piece of unprotected land along Arizona’s Fossil Creek, a tributary to the Verde River and one of only two Wild and Scenic Rivers in the state. WRC intends to convey the property to the Coconino National Forest for inclusion and protection within the Wild and Scenic River corridor, affording these vital riverlands one of the best protections a river can get.

Fossil Creek rises from a series of mineral springs in central Arizona’s Mogollon Rim, and its high mineral content creates slick limestone formations and spectacular blue-green travertine pools throughout much of its length. Within the arid landscape of the Sonoran Desert, Fossil Creek is an oasis, providing important habitat for rare native fish, beavers, otters, leopard frogs, bats and an extraordinary array of bird species. The creek is home to nine native fish species and plays a vital role within the greater ecosystem of the Verde River, Arizona’s other Wild and Scenic River.

Looking at the stream today, you would likely never notice that Fossil Creek was dewatered by a hydroelectric project for nearly a century. During that time, the creek was reduced to a trickle, and riparian and stream habitat were degraded throughout much of the basin. Then, beginning in 1999, state and federal agencies and restoration groups embarked on what would become the largest river recovery effort in the Southwest. In 2005, following six years of hard work, the diversion dam was removed from the stream, and Fossil Creek became a wild, free-flowing river once again. Four years later, Congress designated 17 miles of the stream—nearly the entire river—Wild and Scenic, making it the second Wild and Scenic River in all of Arizona.

WRC’s purchase of this property will improve the integrity of both the Fossil Creek and Verde scenic river corridors and conserve prime habitat within the Verde River basin. As more and more people discover and visit Fossil Creek, WRC’s efforts will help the Coconino National Forest ensure public access while minimizing impact on this fragile desert ecosystem.

Conclusion

The Sandy River and Fossil Creek are two of our recent successes. WRC currently has two dozen active projects in seven 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:
Apr 14, 2015

Western Rivers Conservancy: Spring 2015 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:  

  • Expanded a globally important salmon and wildlife sanctuary in northern California’s Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion.
  • Protected an assemblage of land that includes some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat in Oregon’s Willamette River basin, just to the east of Salem, Oregon.

California’s Klamath River and Blue Creek:

Western Rivers Conservancy pushed ahead in March 2015 in our effort to create a major cold-water salmon sanctuary in the heart of the Klamath-Siskiyou, one of the earth’s biodiversity hotspots. We successfully completed our third land acquisition on the Klamath River and Blue Creek, which brings us three-quarters of the way toward conserving 47,000 acres in partnership with the Yurok, California’s largest Native American tribe. The acquisition adds 6,479 acres of vital forest and riverland to the Blue Creek Salmon Sanctuary, as well as extensive forestland to the recently created Yurok Tribal Community Forest.

At the heart of this project is Blue Creek, the most important cold-water tributary on the lower Klamath River. Blue Creek flows cold and clear from remote headwaters protected high in the Siskiyou Wilderness and has been sacred to the Yurok since time immemorial. In summer, when the Klamath River can reach temperatures in the high seventies—lethal conditions for salmon and steelhead—Blue Creek remains significantly colder. Every migrating Chinook spawner holds in Blue Creek, lowering its body temperature by eight degrees Fahrenheit, before continuing upstream. Without the cold-water refuge Blue Creek provides, the Klamath’s summer- and fall-run fish would likely die before reaching their spawning beds in the upper river. In no small way, the health of the largest salmon stream in the Klamath-Siskiyou, and the survival of the region’s keystone species, hinge on the health of Blue Creek. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to protect this all-important stream.

WRC’s efforts on the Klamath will conserve the entire lower Blue Creek watershed and protect habitat for rare Klamath-Siskiyou wildlife like Humboldt marten, northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet. It will link important habitat within a globally significant ecoregion and return a sacred homeland to the Yurok, which have deep cultural and spiritual interests in keeping Blue Creek and the Klamath healthy.

WRC has been working on this project since 2008, and our most recent purchase puts us well into the home stretch. But there is still work to do. To date, 22,237 acres are in Yurok hands, while WRC owns 14,968 acres. WRC will own and manage these lands, as well as future acquisitions, until they can be conveyed to the Tribe. While WRC holds title to the land, the forests will be managed by the Yurok to enhance salmon recovery, improve old-growth habitat and revitalize the Yurok economy. Once we’ve conveyed all the land to the Tribe, it will continue to manage the properties in line with our shared conservation vision.

To fund a project of this scale, WRC has pioneered new ground in conservation finance, tapping nontraditional sources such as New Markets Tax Credits and carbon offsets sales. These and other private sources have provided more than half of the $54 million needed to purchase the land. Yet we still must raise over $16 million to complete the project.

Once our efforts at Blue Creek are finished, the Klamath-Siskiyou will be home to one of the most important salmon sanctuaries on the West Coast. Sixteen miles upstream from the Pacific, this refuge will help ensure that salmon, steelhead and the region’s remarkable wildlife have a safe haven forever.

Oregon’s North Santiam River:

In January 2015, Western Rivers Conservancy completed an assemblage of land that protects some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat in Oregon’s Willamette River basin, just to the east of Salem, Oregon. The effort, which conserves 429 acres along the lower North Santiam River, prevents a gravel mine and sets the stage for one of the most significant floodplain restoration projects in the valley.

Over the course of the project, which began in 2011, WRC acquired and held two key adjacent farms, identified a long-term steward, assembled over $5 million in funding and conveyed the lands to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. When the Tribe acquired the first property in 2013, it named the lands “Chahalpam,” meaning “Place of the Santiam Kalapuya People” in Kalapuyan. We conveyed the second farm to the Tribe in January 2015, completing the assemblage. The Tribe will now manage the area for the sake of the North Santiam’s fish and wildlife, especially the recovery of spring Chinook, winter steelhead, Oregon chub and Pacific lamprey.

The properties lie adjacent to a protected BLM parcel and have exceptional ecological values and restoration potential. They include a rich mix of bottomland forest, over 2.5 miles of North Santiam River frontage, two miles of side-channel habitat and nearly 30 acres of wetlands. Willamette Valley wetlands are one of the most endangered habitat types in Oregon, yet they are rarely managed for conservation. This project offers a unique opportunity to restore a small but important swath of this important ecosystem. It also ensures permanent protection of the largest tract of intact riparian forest along the entire lower North Santiam.

Conclusion

Blue Creek the North Santiam are two of our recent successes. WRC currently has dozens of active projects in seven 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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