Few rivers occupy a place in the country’s collective imagination like the Rio Grande. One of the West’s most iconic rivers, the “Brave River of the North” flows for nearly 2,000 miles, from its headwaters in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. Although much of the lower river has been diverted or impounded by dams, extensive reaches of the upper river remain critical to imperiled fish and wildlife and offer outstanding recreation opportunities. In these upper reaches, Western Rivers Conservancy has secured a rare opportunity to protect an expansive reach of riverland for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.
How have steelhead and Chinook salmon continued to survive in the upper Columbia and Snake rivers? With all the dams to negotiate, poor water quality to endure, and some degraded spawning habitat once they get there, you don’t know whether to feel sorry for these fish or simply admire their tenacity and resilience. They are survivors…if given half a chance.
Last summer I had the privilege of camping overnight with members of the Yurok Tribe and Western Rivers Conservancy on Blue Creek, one of California’s loveliest streams and an important cold-water refuge for migrating salmon and steelhead. The creek tumbles down the misty Siskiyou Mountains not far from Redwood National Park. I hiked its banks and snorkeled its pools for a close look at young coho and Chinook salmon. At dusk we...
We are thrilled to announce a new conservation project on the John Day River. Western Rivers Conservancy recently embarked on a land acquisition that will revive the largest cold-water tributary to the lower river: Thirtymile Creek. Our effort at Thirtymile will improve some of the most important summer steelhead habitat in the John Day system and forever protect a public access point that is cherished by anglers, hunters and boaters from around the Pacific Northwest. Our acquisition of these lands will also improve habitat for spring Chinook and California bighorn sheep.
Big Sheep Creek is an appropriate name for this Columbia River tributary in remote northeast Washington. After flowing out of the Monashee Mountains on the Canadian border, the creek winds through an area known as “the Wedge,” a prime movement corridor for large mammals traveling between the United States and Canada. Caribou, moose, grizzly, Canada lynx, Rocky Mountain elk, wolverine and the creek’s namesake bighorn sheep all inhabit in the area. And they depend on Big Sheep Creek for the excellent habitat it provides.