Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

by Western Rivers Conservancy
Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers
Nov 1, 2021

Western Rivers Conservancy: Fall 2021 Report

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:     

  • Returning critically needed water flows to California’s South Fork Scott River
  • Advancing a 20-year effort to recover Idaho’s Panther Creek, an outstanding Salmon River tributary

California's South Fork Scott River:

In Northern California, Western Rivers Conservancy has returned critically needed water flows to the South Fork Scott River by protecting the 1,596-acre Bouvier Ranch in the scenic Scott Valley. Our efforts permanently conserved 2.5 miles of Critical Habitat for imperiled coho salmon, building on our work throughout the Klamath River basin.

The South Fork Scott River is the lifeline of the state’s most important wild coho stream: the mainstem Scott River. The Scott is, in turn, the largest, cleanest and coldest tributary to the Klamath. With its clear water, abundant spawning beds and no mainstem dams impeding fish migration, the Scott produces more native coho than any stream in California. But the Scott and its fish face countless challenges, from water diversion and diking to deforestation and drought. Frequently, there is simply too little water in the river and its tributaries to sustain healthy populations of spawning, holding and rearing fish.

Coho are threatened or endangered throughout California and Oregon, and although the Scott is a major producer of wild coho, many fear the species could still become extinct within the river barring meaningful, ongoing recovery work. With the goal of strengthening populations in the Scott River, state and federal agencies have invested heavily in improving habitat within the South Fork and mainstem Scott rivers. This work has been crucial for the Scott and its fish, but the long-term success of these efforts hinges upon one very key ingredient: water.

WRC’s conservation of Bouvier Ranch delivers this critical component. In December, we permanently protected the ranch’s fish and wildlife habitat by placing a conservation easement on the property and transferring it—and management of the ranch’s water rights—to the Siskiyou Land Trust. We then sold the land to a neighboring rancher who shares WRC’s long-term vision for the property and who plans to continue stream restoration work in partnership with CalTrout.

By conserving riverland properties with associated water rights, such as Bouvier Ranch, WRC has a lasting impact on river systems, especially when they are strained by summer heat, water withdrawals and low flows. We’ve now ensured water will stay in the South Fork Scott when the river and fish need it most, increasing summertime flows by up to 20 percent. That’s a major win for fish like coho, Chinook and steelhead and a gamechanger for the entire river ecosystem.

Idaho’s Panther Creek:     

Last fall, WRC purchased a 110-acre property along Idaho’s Panther Creek, one of the Salmon River’s most important tributaries for imperiled salmon and steelhead. This spring, we successfully secured funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to convey the parcel to the Salmon-Challis National Forest for permanent protection. The effort will protect a mile of Panther Creek, including some of the river’s best potential spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead, while setting the stage for restoration that will benefit fish and wildlife alike.

Panther Creek is a river redemption story through and through. Once one of the Salmon River’s top producers of Chinook, the stream was decimated by mining for decades. In the 1990s, a massive restoration effort resulted in dramatic improvements to the river’s water quality, which brought insects and fish back to the upper river. But high-functioning spawning and rearing habitat remains limited. Anytime land along a low-gradient, slower-moving stretch of the river becomes available, protecting and restoring it is critical.

The parcel that WRC acquired includes one of these rare stretches of river with excellent spawning habitat, and both the U.S. Forest Service and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes consider it a top priority for fish recovery. By transferring the property to the national forest, WRC will set the stage for restoration and ensure it remains intact and undeveloped forever. The property also includes 1.09 CFS of water rights, which WRC intends to convey to the Idaho Department of Water Resources to permanently supplement instream flow.

Placing this stretch of Panther Creek into public ownership will improve river access for anglers, birders, hikers and others. More importantly, wildlife like mountain lions, gray wolf, Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer, which are all found throughout the area, can now find refuge along this stretch of Panther Creek.

Conclusion

The South Fork Scott and Panther Creek 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 atattam@westernrivers.org) for further information. Thank you.


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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
$6,691 raised of $100,000 goal
 
87 donations
$93,309 to go
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