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 Life Source for Washington’s Willapa Bay
- Saving Meadows and Creeks for Montana’s Big Hole River
Washington’s Bear River and Willapa Bay:
Visiting the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is like stepping back in time. Temperate rainforests, endless tidal mudflats and freshwater streams exist in near pristine harmony, just as they always have, pulsing with the rhythm of the tides, the salmon returns and seasonal migrations of millions of ducks, geese and shorebirds. The second largest estuary on the West Coast, Willapa Bay is one of the Pacific Northwest’s lesser-known treasures. It is home to abundant plant and animal life, from the tiny Van Dyke’s salamander to black bear, Roosevelt elk and everything in between. And it’s a cherished destination for countless Washingtonians.
The Willapa NWR was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 to protect Willapa Bay’s fragile estuarine habitat, and it was a tremendous achievement for conservation. But nearly a century later, there’s important work to do to protect the lifeblood of the bay: the rivers that feed it.
On that front, Western Rivers Conservancy has signed an agreement to purchase the 2,366-acre Willapa Coastal Forest property, a privately owned parcel within the boundaries of the refuge that includes three miles of the Bear River and over 30 miles of perennial and intermittent streams. While working to acquire the property, we are pursuing state and federal funding, which will allow us to add this special landscape to the Willapa NWR and permanently protect more than 3.75 square miles of coastal forest and wetlands.
The Bear River watershed, although heavily logged in its upper reaches, continues to support spawning salmonids. Our efforts will benefit populations of chum, fall Chinook, coho, steelhead, Pacific lamprey and sea-run cutthroat trout that enter the Bear River system. We will also set up an important tract of forest (a mix of western red cedar, Douglas fir, western hemlock and rare stands of old growth) for transition to mature forest and permanent protection.
The Willapa Coastal Forest provides habitat for Roosevelt elk, the elusive Columbian black-tailed deer and endangered marbled murrelet. For over a century, much of the property has been managed as industrial timberland. Our work will enable the US Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct habitat recovery and prioritize fish, wildlife, mature forests and a fully functioning river system.
Adding this special property to the Willapa NWR will also create new recreation opportunities in an area that is popular for boating, hiking, birdwatching, hunting, shellfish harvesting and camping.
Now that we’ve signed an agreement to purchase the Willapa Coastal Forest property, the hard work of buying it, securing funding and, ultimately, transferring the property to the US Fish and Wildlife Service begins. With this first step complete, we are on our way toward improving the health, resiliency and accessibility of one of Washington’s great natural treasures.
Montana’s Big Hole River:
In Montana’s upper Big Hole Valley, WRC purchased a rare private inholding within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The 317-acre property, called Clemow Cow Camp, is a beautiful expanse of wetlands graced by two high-mountain streams, Cox and Old Tim creeks, which flow into Warm Springs Creek, a tributary to the Big Hole.
Remote and pristine, Clemow Cow Camp includes 154 acres of riparian wetlands that waterfowl and shorebirds depend on, as well as top-notch habitat for grizzly bear and Canada lynx (both threatened species). Cox and Old Tim creeks are home to mountain whitefish (a species of state concern) and westslope cutthroat trout. WRC purchased the property in August 2022 and intends to convey it to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for permanent protection.
Our efforts will secure 2.77 CFS of water rights, which the Forest Service will use to reinvigorate the property’s critically important meadows. This builds on WRC’s work on the Wise River, a major Big Hole tributary, where we are also using water rights to irrigate wet meadows and place water in-stream, an innovative two-pronged approach that ensures fish have cold water when they need it most.
For recreationists, Clemow Cow Camp serves as an entry point into the adjacent 148,150-acre West Pioneer Wilderness Study Area, the largest remaining roadless area in southwest Montana. With water, habitat and recreation all being delivered, our conservation efforts will notch a victory for fish, wildlife and the health of the greater Big Hole Valley.
The Willapa and Big Hole projects are just some of our recent projects. WRC currently has over 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. 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.