Western Rivers Conservancy pushed ahead this month in our effort to create a major cold-water salmon sanctuary in the heart of the Klamath-Siskiyou, one of the earth’s biodiversity hotspots. We successfully completed our third land acquisition on the Klamath River and Blue Creek, which brings us three-quarters of the way toward conserving 47,000 acres in partnership with the Yurok, California’s largest Native American tribe. The acquisition adds 6,479 acres of vital forest and riverland to the Blue Creek Salmon Sanctuary, as well as extensive forestland to the recently created Yurok Tribal Community Forest.
Colorado’s Little Cimarron River is a magnificent wild trout stream on its upper reaches. Portions of its middle reaches, however, are dewatered through withdraws during the hot months of summer, segmenting habitat between the upper and lower river. Western Rivers Conservancy has been working in partnership with Colorado Water Trust to return perennial flows to the Little Cimarron. CWT recently wrote a great piece for "Your Water Colorado" blog that explains this project in detail – and how, together, we are making history on this small but important Colorado trout stream.
"When standing on the ranch, you can’t quite see the river. If it’s a good autumn, the snowy peaks of the San Juan Mountains within the Uncompahgre Wilderness Area backstop the narrow valley to the south, and the tops of the turning cottonwoods peek out of a ravine to the west. Just standing there among the cow pies you’d suspect, and be correct, that the river nearby but just out of sight is renewed by those melting snows each spring. The cottonwoods betray the river’s path below the ranch.
During most springs, runoff on the Little Cimarron River that meanders through those cottonwoods fills each water right’s claim to its flows to the brim and then some. Water taken out at the McKinley Ditch headgate upstream winds along the steep slopes and eventually to this tableland, where acres irrigated since federal government patent and first appropriation in 1886 produce hay and cattle. Back at the river, water flows down the Little Cimarron to the Cimarron and eventually to the Gunnison River, upstream of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and then, finally, to the Colorado River."
Western Rivers Conservancy has been working for years to create a county park at Punchbowl Falls, on Oregon’s Hood River. The park would protect both the falls and the confluence of the West and East Fork Hood Rivers, which is immediately downstream from Punchbowl. The Hood River is one of the Columbia Basin’s unsung gems and has the greatest diversity of fish species in the entire basin. Its location on the northern slopes of Mount Hood also make it very important in terms of cold water.
We’re closer than ever to seeing this project come together. Tom Kloster at Mount Hood National Park Campaign blog wrote a great post about the Hood and WRC’s efforts to create a park on this cherished stream. It’s well worth a read.
Our continued efforts on the North Santiam River were recently covered by the Statesman Journal. It’s well worth a read. We are very proud of our work on this outstanding tributary to the Willamette River and thankful for all the support we’ve received. We couldn’t have done it without you!
"Western Rivers Conservancy and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, in partnership with the Bonneville Power Administration and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, have completed “Chahalpam,” an assemblage of land that conserves an outstanding stretch of the lower North Santiam River, approximately three miles southwest of Stayton.
The purchase of a 91-acre farm previously owned by Bill and Dianne Tucker finishes a program already in progress.
“The Tucker property was the second of two properties that WRC conserved in partnership with the Tribe,” said Danny Palmerlee, communications director for the conservancy. “The first was the adjacent 338-acre farm, which was conveyed to the Tribe in June 2013. The Tribe renamed the property Chahalpam (meaning “Place of the Santiam Kalapuya people” in Kalapuyan). Now that we have conveyed the Tucker farm to the Tribe, it will become part of Chahalpam.”
We were excited to see this recent article in Steamboat Today about how our recent efforts at Sarvis Creek will benefit the Yampa River watershed as a whole.
"The U.S. Forest Service has the privilege of managing public lands for multi-use, and a key indicator as to the overall condition of those lands is the health of the watersheds on National Forest. Watershed health has many public benefits, including importance for drinking water, agriculture and recreation, to name a few.
Management of public land and their associated watersheds is complex to begin with and can be made even more so when privately-owned inholdings within forest boundaries add another layer of complexity.
The USFS thinks that contiguous land ownership lends itself to consistent management, and so the agency’s lands program works to consolidate blocks of public lands whenever opportunities arise. Management becomes less complicated when land ownership is not fragmented, and thus implementing on-the-ground projects — which benefit overall watershed health — is easier and more efficient."