Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

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

Project Report | Oct 8, 2015
Western Rivers Conservancy: Fall 2015 Report

By David Wilkins | Development Director

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 has:

   • Launched an effort to save a stretch of Oregon’s legendary North Umpqua River.

   • Expanded an effort to protect a salmon stronghold along the North Santiam River, a key Willamette River tributary.

Oregon’s North Umpqua River:

The North Umpqua River is one of Oregon’s great recreational treasures and one of the finest rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Flanked by the North Umpqua National Recreational Trail for most of its length, the river is accessible by foot or mountain bike for 79 miles, making it a haven for anglers, mountain bikers, hikers, backpackers and boaters. But what really sets the North Umpqua apart is its clean, cold water and its extraordinary fishery.

The North Umpqua is a legendary steelhead stream, steeped in fly fishing lore and revered by anglers from around the world. Thirty-three miles of the river are designated fly-fishing-only, and a long tradition of local conservation has helped ensure this remarkable stream stays healthy for fish. Today, the North Umpqua is one of the few designated Salmon Strongholds in Oregon, with healthy runs of spring Chinook, coho salmon and summer steelhead.

Thanks to efforts by anglers and other conservationists, the North Umpqua River is protected along much of its length by a number of designations, including the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River corridor, the Rogue-Umpqua National Scenic Byway, the North Umpqua Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA), the North Umpqua Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the Oregon State Scenic Waterway and the North Umpqua National Recreation Trail. Yet, despite this multitude of designations, parts of the North Umpqua remain at risk.

In summer 2015, Western Rivers Conservancy committed to purchase 211 acres of forest and a mile of North Umpqua riverfront at the head of the North Umpqua Trail and the gateway to the flyfishing-only section. The need arose when Douglas County, Oregon, concluded it had to sell Swiftwater County Park, a beautiful park with prime access to the river, an important trailhead and a largely unbroken stand of old-growth forest. Rather than let the parcel be logged or developed, WRC acted to acquire and conserve the property. Our goal is to convey the lands to BLM for inclusion and protection within the Wild and Scenic River corridor.

WRC’s acquisition, our first on the North Umpqua, will prevent timber harvest and development within the SRMA and ACEC, and keep a key reach of the National Recreation Trail in public ownership. The project will conserve large stands of old-growth Douglas fir, as well as sugar pine, incense cedar, western red cedar, white fir and western hemlock. In addition to the important role the forest plays in keeping water temperatures low, it harbors diverse wildlife, including northern spotted owl, bald eagle, Roosevelt elk, black bear, river otter and many others. The project will also protect high-quality gravel beds within the property that provide crucial spawning habitat for anadromous fish, including nearly a mile of designated Critical Habitat for Oregon coast coho, a threatened species.

Oregon’s North Santiam River:

The Willamette River and its vast floodplain were once a lacework of side channels, wetlands and wet prairies, with extensive bottomland forests that provided rich habitat for fish and wildlife. But today, after more than a century of development, Willamette Valley wetlands and native deciduous forests exist only in pockets, primarily along Willamette tributaries like Oregon’s North Santiam River.

In early 2015, Western Rivers Conservancy completed Chahalpam, a project that conserved 429 acres of forest and over 2.5 miles of the North Santiam and key side-channels that provide vital habitat for salmon, steelhead and other wildlife. Our partner in this effort was the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. We are now working with the Tribe to conserve another 411 acres of outstanding riverland habitat, upstream from Chahalpam. As with Chahalpam, funding for this project will be provided by the Bonneville Power Administration and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife through the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program.

This project is our third acquisition on the North Santiam and will protect nearly three miles of main-stem and side-channel frontage, as well as seasonally flooded wetlands and crucial swaths of both closed- and open-canopy forest. Native tree species like grand fir, western hemlock, Pacific yew, western red cedar, Oregon white oak and red alder will all be protected.

Once our work is complete, another outstanding stretch of this key Willamette River tributary will be forever conserved. When combined with our recent projects downstream, WRC and its partners will have protected over five miles of the North Santiam River, as well as vital side-channel frontage, wetland habitat and hundreds of acres of native forest.


The North Umpqua and North Santiam are two of our recent successes. WRC currently has 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 David Wilkins at 503-241-0151, ext. 214 (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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