Snaking across eastern Oregon, the John Day River winds through a land of basalt canyons and sweeping river bends, where bighorn sheep outnumber cars and the scent of sagebrush fills the air. In spring and summer, boaters put in at sites like Service Creek, Twickenham and Clarno and spend multiple days floating the river, bass fishing and soaking up the spectacular scenery. Each fall, hunters and anglers return to the river just as surely as the wild steelhead do with the coming of higher water.
Flowing from a series of mineral springs in central Arizona, Fossil Creek is known for its travertine pools and stunning aquamarine water. In an arid landscape it is a lush oasis, providing habitat for rare native fish, beavers, otters, leopard frogs, bats and an extraordinary array of bird species.
On a scenic bend in Idaho’s legendary Salmon River, Western Rivers Conservancy has successfully protected a dramatic viewshed and ensured the widely-loved Pine Bar Recreation Site remains forever accessible. The project, our first on the Salmon River, began in 2012 when we acquired 1,284 acres on a spectacular bend above the river. We purchased the land with the goal of conserving both the viewshed and the high-gradient creeks that tumble down the mountainside to nourish the river. The streams that flow through the property directly influence habitat quality for five threatened or endangered fish species, including sockeye, Chinook, steelhead and migratory bull trout.
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.