Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

by Western Rivers Conservancy
Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

Project Report | Oct 24, 2022
Western Rivers Conservancy: Fall 2022 Report

By Anne Tattam | Associate Director of Foundation Relations

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:     

  • Protecting McLoughlin Falls Ranch on Washinton’s Okanogan River
  • Conserving a Premier Stretch of Washinton’s Yakima River

Washinton’s Okanogan River:   

On Washington’s Okanogan River, Western Rivers Conservancy is on the cusp of buying and conserving the 727-acre McLoughlin Falls Ranch in order to protect two miles of the Okanogan and a key piece of one of the state’s most important wildlife corridors.

The Okanogan River originates in Canada’s Okanagan Lake and flows 115 miles through oblong lakes, low rolling hills, expanses of sagebrush and stands of Ponderosa pines, eventually emptying into the Columbia River in north-central Washington. Along its banks, fertile agricultural lands fan out for miles and miles, giving rise to productive farms, orchards and vineyards.

Roughly 30 miles south of the Canada-US border, the Okanogan dips into the glacier-carved McLoughlin Canyon, one of the most scenic and historic reaches of the river—and the location of McLoughlin Falls Ranch. Named after a hearty Class II rapid called McLoughlin Falls, the ranch makes up a critical part of a larger wildlife movement corridor that spans from the Cascade Mountains in the west to the Kettle River Range in the east. Mule deer migrate between the valley and higher elevations, and the area is home to cougar, elk, bighorn sheep, sharp-tailed grouse and the country’s healthiest population of Canada lynx.

McLoughlin Falls Ranch possesses key stands of riparian forests that shade the river and help keep the Okanogan’s temperatures low. Despite intense pressure, the river supports one of only two remaining self-sustaining runs of sockeye salmon in the entire Columbia Basin, as well as Chinook and steelhead populations that are still hanging on.

From a historical perspective, McLoughlin Falls Ranch is also important. The property and surrounding region have long been used by people as a trading, hunting and fishing route. The ranch is an ancestral fishing site for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and artifacts on the property point to its history as a stagecoach stop for miners and settlers.

In October 2021, we signed an agreement to purchase the property, and we will buy and hold it until we can permanently conserve the ranch in partnership with the Colville Tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Once we transfer the property to its new stewards, the ranch will remain undeveloped for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people, including those who’ve had ties to this land for centuries.


Washington’s Yakima River:     

The Yakima River is one of the West’s premier desert trout streams. It flows 214 miles from Keechelus Lake in the Cascade Mountains to the Columbia River, with a glorious 27-mile stretch through the Yakima River Canyon. Here, in a great sea of sagebrush, the river sweeps around giant horseshoe bends, past high basalt cliffs and rolling desert hills. Year-round, trout anglers take to the Yakima in drift boats and rafts, and in summer people head to the river for day floats in inner tubes. Bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer can be spotted along the river’s banks, and the canyon’s crevices and cliffs are home to the state’s densest concentration of nesting hawks, eagles and falcons.

Named after the indigenous Yakama people, the Yakima is Washington’s longest river that flows entirely within the state. Historically, the river was one of the Columbia Basin’s major producers of salmon and steelhead, but dams and a century of water withdrawals on the Yakima have degraded fish runs.

In the upper reaches of the Yakima River Canyon lies the 812-acre Yakima Canyon Ranch, spanning two sides of the river atthe heart of some of the best fly fishing water in Washington. It is one of just a handful of the canyon’s river reaches that aren’t protected within the Bureau of Land Management’s surrounding Yakima Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and is home to the popular Big Horn boating access site. It’s an important property from a fish and wildlife perspective and possesses outstanding river access, excellent camping and breathtaking desert vistas in every direction.

Given its importance, Yakima Canyon Ranch has long been a target for conservation. Western Rivers Conservancy first attempted to purchase the property in 2015, but it took until 2021 to get a deal in place. We acquired interim funding to purchase the ranch and are now working to secure an appropriation from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to convey the property to the BLM. When funding is in place, we will transfer Yakima Canyon Ranch to the BLM for inclusion within the ACEC, guaranteeing permanent public access and ensuring greater management continuity along the river.

Conservation of the ranch will also protect migratory habitat for salmon and steelhead and robust habitat for California bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer and a myriad of small mammals and birds.

Once Yakima Canyon Ranch is in BLM hands, this premier stretch of the Yakima will be permanently protected for the sake of fish and wildlife, and public access to this very special stretch of the Yakima River Canyon will be guaranteed forever.


The McLoughlin Falls and Yakima River 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.

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

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Jun 27, 2022
Western Rivers Conservancy: Summer 2022 Report

By Anne Tattam | Associate Director of Foundation Relations

Feb 28, 2022
Western Rivers Conservancy: Winter 2022 Report

By Anne Tattam | Associate Director of Foundation Relations

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Organization Information

Western Rivers Conservancy

Project Leader:
Anne Tattam
Administrative and Development Associate
Portland , OR United States
$6,741 raised of $100,000 goal
88 donations
$93,259 to go
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