Protecting Land on the West's Outstanding Rivers

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

Project Report | Jan 3, 2017
Western Rivers Conservancy: Winter 2017 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:   

  • Conserving more lands along Oregon’s Sandy River
  • Protecting a lifeline for spawning salmon on Idaho’s Salmon River and Pole Creek

Oregon’s Sandy River:

Western Rivers Conservancy protected another 120 acres of fish and wildlife habitat along Oregon’s Sandy River last month. With the completion of this project, WRC has now conserved over 4,500 acres along the Sandy and its tributaries, helping ensure that Portland’s backyard river stays healthy for generations to come.

The project protected nearly half a mile of Little Joe Creek, an important salmon and steelhead-bearing tributary to the Sandy River. The Sandy’s imperiled runs of winter steelhead, coho salmon and fall and spring Chinook are all listed under the Endangered Species Act. WRC’s efforts throughout the basin, including our work on Little Joe Creek, are conserving prime habitat for all of these fish.

Our efforts at Little Joe Creek also linked an existing county park with protected BLM lands, and will help the BLM expand its Sandy Ridge Trail System. Created in 2010, Sandy Ridge has become one of the country’s top mountain bike destinations.

WRC began its work on the Sandy River in 1999, when it partnered with Portland General Electric at the outset of the utility’s dam removals on the Sandy and Little Sandy Rivers. With the dams coming out, WRC committed to conserving 4,500 acres of prime riverland habitat in partnership with PGE. Since then, we have created an unprecedented conservation and recreation corridor on this outstanding glacial river, just 25 miles from downtown Portland. Much of the land we acquired from PGE is now managed by the BLM within a designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Although WRC has met its original goal of conserving 4,500 acres along the Sandy, we continue to seek out high-quality riverlands, where acquisition will allow us to protect more habitat for Oregon’s fish and wildlife. Whether you’re a bike ride or a full day day’s drive from the Sandy, we hope you’ll cheer this success. An important property along a remarkable western river has been conserved forever.

Idaho’s Salmon River and Pole Creek:  

Beneath the snowcapped peaks of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Western Rivers Conservancy has successfully conserved a mile of Pole Creek, one of the most important salmon spawning streams in the upper Salmon River basin.

Originating from sedimentary geology in the White Cloud range, Pole Creek carries a relatively high nutrient load that sustains diverse insect life and excellent riparian habitat. The result is outstanding spawning and rearing habitat for salmon, steelhead and bull trout in the headwaters of one of the greatest rivers in the West.

Knowing the importance of the stream, WRC set out to conserve this prime reach and bolster conservation efforts that have been underway for years. Pole Creek has been the focus of extensive restoration work by local and national nonprofits, local landowners and state and federal agencies. Millions of dollars have been invested in the stream to remove culverts, improve fish passage and increase flows during peak irrigation season, all with the intention of returning this exceptional stream to optimum health.

WRC contributed a critical piece of the puzzle by purchasing a 619-acre property along a mile of the creek and conveying it to the Sawtooth National Forest. The Forest Service has committed to restoring this stretch of the creek and will manage it for the sake of the Salmon River’s fish and wildlife, especially the recovery of imperiled salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Our efforts will eliminate future grazing in the stream’s sensitive riparian areas and prevent development along this key reach of the creek. The project also protects a short reach of the mainstem Salmon River itself.

WRC has long been drawn to the “River of No Return,” which flows through the largest wilderness areas in the Lower 48. The Salmon plays host to one of the greatest fish migrations on earth, a journey of more than 900 miles from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains. It is also one of the great river destinations of the West, with unparalleled boating, fishing, hiking, hunting and wildlife watching.

When viewed on the scale of the Salmon and Snake River basins as a whole, Pole Creek is but a tiny stream winding through the Sawtooth Valley, high in the system. But given its immense importance to the Salmon and Snake’s runs of anadromous fish, the impact of our efforts—and the support you provided to help us get the job done—will be far-reaching and permanent.

Conclusion

The Sandy River and the Salmon River/Pole Creek Projects 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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