Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

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

Project Report | Apr 29, 2011
Western Rivers Conservancy Spring 2011 Report

By David Wilkins | Development Director

With the support of GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) is buying land along outstanding rivers across the western United States. General support gifts help pay for the essential operating costs of purchasing land and placing properties in permanent conservation stewardship. Your donation is dedicated to such activities as: developing relationships with willing seller landowners; restoring salmon and steelhead habitat; and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.       

Thanks to your contributions, we are:

-          Making major gains in our work to establish a major sanctuary for fish, wildlife and people along Blue Creek   and the lower Klamath River.

-          Working to protect tributaries of Nason Creek, a critical portion of the Wenatchee River System in central Washington.

-          Securing boater access to the Wild and Scenic Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers.

California’s Lower Klamath River

Western Rivers Conservancy has reached a major milestone in our partnership with the Yurok Tribe on the lower Klamath River. On April 14, 2011, the Yurok Tribe, working with WRC, completed purchase of 22,237 acres from Green Diamond Resource Company in Humboldt County. Covering more than 34 square miles, the land is part of the Yurok’s ancestral territory, and will be sustainably managed as part of the Yurok Tribal Community Forest.

The Yurok’s sustainable forestry management approach will significantly improve water quality and fish habitat along three lower Klamath tributaries: Pecwan, Ke’pel and Weitchpec Creeks. The Tribe's approach to forestry will also enhance and maintain suitable habitat for several federally-listed and candidate species, including: marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, fisher, Humboldt marten and mardon skipper. Forests and rivers in the project area will benefit from species diversity, fewer roads, wider stream buffers and carbon reserves.

In addition to being an unprecedented conservation achievement, this is also a major cultural accomplishment. The Yurok Tribe has long sought to regain this ancestral territory to rejuvenate tribal cultural practices, including subsistence fishing, hunting, gathering and traditional basket-weaving.

Ultimately, Western Rivers Conservancy’s vision will be complete with the protection of Blue Creek. We will purchase an additional 25,000 acres, including the entire lower Blue Creek Watershed, so it can be set aside as a salmon sanctuary and Yurok Tribal Preserve. Blue Creek is not only sacred to the Yurok people, it is a coldwater haven for salmon when water temperatures rise in the main-stem Klamath. Blue Creek is predicted to stay colder longer in the face of climate change, providing crucial habitat for the survival of native Chinook, coho, steelhead, cutthroat trout and other species. Protecting the lower part of Blue Creek will complement its protected headwaters in the Siskiyou Wilderness.

Washington’s Nason Creek

Western Rivers Conservancy is once again working to protect critical portions of the Wenatchee River system in central Washington.

In January 2011, WRC signed an agreement with Longview Timber to purchase 648 acres of forested land in the Nason Creek watershed. Nason Creek is a Wenatchee River tributary that provides habitat for spring Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. With steep, forested slopes adjacent to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, the parcel contains two tributaries that contribute to Nason Creek’s water quality.

An important fisheries restoration project is already underway on Nason Creek. Several agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Chelan County and others, are working to move Nason Creek back into its original channel by reconnecting oxbows just downstream from this property. This will improve the stream’s hydrology and provide enhanced salmon and steelhead habitat in channels that have been severed from Nason Creek since the construction of the Great Northern Railroad in the 1800s.

Purchasing the Nason Creek property, an inholding of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, will help maintain aquatic habitat adjacent to the channel restoration efforts while also conserving a vulnerable hillside adjoining the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. Without the land purchase, the ecological integrity of Nason Creek and the Wilderness would be threatened. The acquisition will also preserve scenic views from Highway 2 and provide the opportunity for new trail access into the Wilderness, where popular activities include hiking, camping, fishing, wildlife viewing and cross-country skiing.

The purchase agreement is exciting news, as WRC’s work to preserve habitat in the larger Wenatchee system spans two decades. Our previous projects on the Little Wenatchee River and Icicle Creek, two other tributaries, contributed to the protection of critical spawning grounds for the only healthy sockeye salmon run remaining in the Northwest.

Oregon’s Minam River

Prized access to one of the most beautiful river floats in Oregon was secured in April 2011 when Western Rivers Conservancy purchased the Minam Store property.

WRC acquired the two-acre parcel at the Wallowa-Minam Rivers confluence from a private owner. The site is well-known to boaters as a convenient launching point for spectacular multi-day family floating trips on the Wild and Scenic Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers.

The site is adjacent to the Minam State Recreation Area, and will complement the hiking, fishing, hunting and camping opportunities available there. The picturesque canyon features beautiful wildflower displays and is home to an array of fish and wildlife.

Located just off of Highway 82, the parcel includes 350 feet of river frontage. WRC is working to lease the Minam Store building to a rafting outfitter so that services remain in full swing, including rentals, shuttles and supplies.

Conclusion

With the support of GlobalGiving donors, Western Rivers Conservancy is expanding our efforts to protect riverlands for fish, wildlife and people. Please contact David Wilkins at 503-241-0151, ext. 14 (or dwilkins@westernrivers.org) with any questions or for further information. Thank you.

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Jan 27, 2011
Western Rivers Conservancy Winter 2011 Report

By David Wilkins | Development Director

Nov 15, 2010
Western Rivers Conservancy: Fall 2010 Update

By David Wilkins | Development Director

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Organization Information

Western Rivers Conservancy

Location: PORTLAND, OREGON - USA
Website:
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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