Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

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

Project Report | Jul 28, 2011
Western Rivers Conservancy Summer 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; preserving salmon and steelhead habitat; and creating new hiking trails, boating access and recreational opportunities.         

Thanks to your contributions, we are:

-          Working to expand Utah’s Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

-          Acquiring land along the lower Gunnison River on the outskirts of Grand Junction, Colorado.

-          Launching a project to protect threatened salmon on the North Santiam River in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Utah’s Bear River

Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) is working in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Friends of the Bear River Refuge to expand the footprint of the 74,000-acre Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah’s Great Salt Lake ecosystem.

The Bear River carries snow melt down from three Rocky Mountain states and supplies the Great Salt Lake with 60 percent of its fresh water. Where it meets the Great Salt Lake, the Bear River spreads in a vast delta. An oasis in the desert, these marshes provide resting areas and abundant food for more than 200 bird species migrating along the Pacific and Central Flyways between Mexico and Canada. The millions of feathered visitors that congregate here eventually spread out over the Western Hemisphere and beyond.

In June 2011, WRC purchased the 600-acre Lucky Seven-Pintail Club. Our purchase secures immediate protection for these wetlands, which will now be restored to even greater health for species like tundra swan, black-necked stilt, snowy plovers and marbled godwits. WRC will convey the property to the USFWS to add to the refuge.

This most recent acquisition builds on WRC’s 2010 conveyance of the nearby Feather and Finn property to the Refuge. Together, these acquisitions enhance waterfowl habitat by protecting open water areas adjacent to grasslands and sheltered nesting sites.

Colorado’s Gunnison River

Western Rivers Conservancy purchased an additional three miles of Gunnison River frontage in May 2011, which will help ensure the survival of rare desert fish.

The 403-acre property was threatened by gravel mining, but now will be protected within the surrounding Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area (NCA). Keeping this stretch of waterway healthy and its habitats intact is critically important to four rare warm-water species: humpback and bonytail chub, Colorado pikeminow and razorback sucker.

This purchase complements 131 acres that we recently bought several miles downstream, adjacent to the Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area near Grand Junction. Both properties fill in a nearly unbroken stretch of protected lands from the NCA to the Colorado National Monument. This reach of river also offers an exceptional gentle-water river float through gorgeous deep canyons.

Oregon’s North Santiam River

Western Rivers is expanding its efforts in the Willamette Valley by agreeing to purchase nearly 350 acres on the North Santiam River, a major tributary of the Willamette River.

Historically, the North Santiam was the largest producer of Willamette Basin winter steelhead and the source of approximately one-third of spring Chinook salmon. Today, those runs are in danger. Both species are now listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Oregon Chub, a native resident fish, is also listed as Endangered in the Willamette Basin. While the Willamette is highly degraded, some of the Basin’s best remaining salmon, steelhead, trout and chub habitat is found in the North Santiam below Big Cliff Dam. The North Santiam is also home to important resident populations of native Santiam cutthroat and rainbow trout.

The property has more than two miles of North Santiam frontage and includes seven side channels and sloughs, as well as portions of Dieckman Creek. The property contains intact wetland and complex native prairie, and has good floodplain habitat restoration opportunities.

Purchase and restoration of this land will be a big step forward for native fish and wildlife and will aid recovery of listed species in the Willamette Basin. This effort will protect open space and provide angler access and wildlife viewing within sixty miles of downtown Portland.


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 with any questions or for further information. Thank you.

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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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