Western Rivers Conservancy protects outstanding river ecosystems in the western United States. We acquire land to conserve critical habitat, provide public access for compatible use and enjoyment, and cooperate with other agencies and organizations to secure the health of whole ecosystems.
In every corner of the American West a stream cries out for protection, because it is habitat for endangered fish and wildlife, because it is the scenic centerpiece of a community, or because it is a favorite haunt of boaters, anglers and hikers. Western Rivers Conservancy answers those calls for help with one of the strongest tools for river protection: land acquisition.
By acquiring riverlands in the right places at the right times, we’ve created permanent sanctuaries for fish and wildlife on streams like the Bear River in Utah, California’s Smith River and the Skagit River in Washington. We’ve created extensive conservation/recreation corridors along the Hoh River and Oregon’s Sandy River. In Colorado, we opened new access to a vast public wilderness through purchase of a ranch on the Yampa River. We prevented gravel mining on the banks of the Gunnison and created Oregon’s second largest state park by purchasing 16,000 acres and 16 river miles along the John Day River. Through our largest acquisition ever, we are now creating a 47,000-acre salmon sanctuary and Tribal forest preserve on the lower Klamath River in California.
When it comes to conserving rivers, land acquisition is direct, tangible and effective. Because of this, we’ve been at it for over 25 years. We still firmly believe that sometimes to save a river, you have to buy it.
Where We Work
Western Rivers Conservancy protects outstanding rivers in the eleven contiguous western states: Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Our conservation acquisitions include everything from big-river projects on the Snake, the Salmon and the Madison, to purchases on smaller but equally important streams like Deer Creek, Nason Creek and the Little Cimarron. To learn more about our work on rivers around the West, please visit our Project Atlas.
How We Work
Western Rivers Conservancy seeks out riverlands with high conservation values, focusing on areas that will benefit permanently and meaningfully through land acquisition. WRC negotiates with willing sellers—including corporations, families and utilities—to gain control of those lands for the sake of conservation. Using creative funding strategies, it transfers those lands to public or private stewards for long-term conservation management. Our partners include government agencies, private corporations, Native American tribes, family landowners and many others.