Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

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

Project Report | Jan 25, 2012
Western Rivers Conservancy Winter 2012 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 contribution 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:

-  Conserving outstanding fish habitat in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

-  Completing a vital fish and wildlife habitat corridor in northern California’s Sierra Nevada.

Oregon’s North Santiam 

Western Rivers Conservancy has set its sights on preserving one of the most important fisheries in Oregon’s Willamette basin: the North Santiam River. Fish in the basin are imperiled: upper Willamette River Chinook salmon and winter steelhead have both been listed as Threatened, and Oregon Chub is listed as Endangered. On December 21, 2011, Western Rivers Conservancy took an important step toward restoring these runs by purchasing the first 161 acres of a 338-acre property. This acquisition will protect critical fish, wildlife and plant habitat along the North Santiam River, a vital Willamette River tributary.

The North Santiam River features some of the best remaining salmon, steelhead, trout and chub habitat in the Willamette basin. Currently, the North Santiam is designated as a salmon stronghold for its high level of winter steelhead production. Historically, it is the largest producer of winter steelhead in the entire Willamette basin and is the source of approximately one-third of spring Chinook salmon.

The property WRC purchased is located near the town of Stayton and has two miles of North Santiam frontage, seven side channels/sloughs and frontage on the smaller Dieckman Creek. It is the most intact riparian assemblage within 50 square miles. Besides the large number of aquatic species, four wildlife species of concern also call this property home: the pileated woodpecker, hooded merganser, western pond turtle and red-legged frog.

Purchasing and restoring this property along the North Santiam River is a critical step for native fish and wildlife, and will aid in the recovery of listed species in the Willamette basin. WRC is hopeful that this first purchase along the North Santiam will lead to the conservation of additional properties with high-quality habitat.

California’s Deer Creek

In the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, Deer Creek flow for more than 50 dam-free miles, winding through chaparral, blue oak groves and grassy hills. A rarity in California for its strong runs of steelhead and spring Chinook, Deer Creek is also one of the precious few rivers that hold hope for restoring the Sacramento River’s endangered salmon and steelhead runs. On December 8, 2011, California’s Wildlife Conservation Board approved funding that will allow Western Rivers Conservancy to forever conserve 600 acres along this creek, including Lower Deer Creek Falls.

WRC purchased the Lower Deer Creek Falls property from Sierra Pacific Industries in 2009. In 2012, WRC will convey the land to the Northern California Regional Land Trust for permanent conservation. Bringing the lands along Deer Creek into public ownership will complete a continuous fish and wildlife habitat corridor between the Lassen National Forest and Ishi Wilderness.

In addition to protecting important fish and wildlife habitat, conveying this property into conservation stewardship will enhance public access to the area’s hiking trails, waterfalls and whitewater boating. The property connects to a complex of trails, including the trail to the breathtaking Lower Deer Creek Falls.


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

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