Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

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

Project Report | Oct 3, 2016
Western Rivers Conservancy: Fall 2016 Report

By Anne Tattam | Grants Manager

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:   

  • Achieving Success on Arizona’s Scenic Fossil Creek
  • Completed a Decade-Long Effort on Oregon’s Hood River

Arizona’s Fossil Creek:

This fall, Fossil Creek, one of only two Wild and Scenic Rivers in Arizona, will at last be protected along its entire length. Western Rivers Conservancy is set to convey the final unprotected stretch of this unique stream to the Coconino National Forest Service for permanent protection within the Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River corridor.

The project area is a small but critical cap on a much larger effort to restore Fossil Creek after it was dewatered by a hydroelectric project for nearly a century. Beginning in 1999, state and federal agencies and restoration groups embarked on what would become the largest river restoration effort in the Southwest. Since then, Fossil Creek has returned to the exquisite stream it once was, a delicate ribbon of crystal-clear, aquamarine mineral water flowing through the parched landscape of the Sonoran Desert.

Descending from a series of mineral springs in the Mogollon Rim, Fossil Creek hovers around 70 degrees Fahrenheit year round. The river’s high calcium content creates surreal limestone formations and the beautiful blue-green travertine pools for which the stream is known. An oasis in every sense of the word, Fossil Creek is a true haven for fish and wildlife. Nine species of imperiled native warm-water fish inhabit the stream, and river otters, bats, frogs, beavers and a plethora of bird species all rely on its life-giving waters.

People have also come to rely on Fossil Creek. It offers cool respite from the desert heat and has become a popular destination for swimmers, sunbathers, hikers, bird watchers and anglers. The lands that WRC is conveying to the U.S. Forest Service will be crucial in helping the agency manage recreation and reduce human impact on this sensitive desert ecosystem.

Oregon’s Hood River:  

Over 100 years in the making, Punchbowl Falls Park, on Oregon’s Hood River, finally opened to the public this summer when Western Rivers Conservancy conveyed 102 acres of riverland to Hood River County. WRC and the county created the park to protect Punchbowl Falls and the confluence of the East and West Forks of the Hood River and to ensure public access to this scenic stretch of the Hood.

The Hood River is a rare Columbia Basin stream, with more anadromous and native fish species than any other river in the basin. With headwaters flowing from the shaded north-facing glaciers of Mount Hood, the river is ice-cold and, in the face of climate change, a critical cold-water refuge for salmonids.

WRC began purchasing property along the Hood more than a decade ago and held the lands while raising the funds needed to convey them to the county. The final piece fell into place last year, when Oregon Parks and Recreation Department awarded a $470,000 grant to the county. Thanks to support from The Collins Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Pacific Power Foundation and others, WRC was able to donate half of the property value. The remainder was raised by Hood River County, the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District and local individuals.

Today, the park is open to all, and this important stretch of the Hood River will be forever managed for the Hood River’s cold water, unique fish and wildlife and outstanding recreation.

Conclusion

Fossil Creek and the Hood River are two of our recent successes. WRC currently has two dozen active projects in six 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

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