Western Rivers Conservancy is about to set a new precedent for river conservation in Idaho. In the Sawtooth Valley, at the headwaters of the Salmon River, we recently purchased a property called Goat Falls Ranch. The ranch has key water rights on Goat and Meadow creeks, two critical headwater streams that once contained some of the best rearing habitat for Chinook salmon in the entire Columbia Basin.
In Idaho’s scenic Sawtooth Valley, Western Rivers Conservancy has successfully purchased the 364-acre Goat Falls Ranch, which controls crucial water rights on Goat and Meadow Creeks, two key tributary streams of the Salmon River. Historically, these streams contained some of the highest density Chinook salmon rearing habitat in the Salmon River system. Due to habitat degradation and low in-stream flows, the creeks now harbor only a fraction of the salmon and steelhead they once did. During the critical seasons of late summer and fall, when stream flows are already low and rearing juvenile Chinook are most susceptible, portions of both creeks are reduced to only a trickle, or dewatered entirely.
Western Rivers Conservancy has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to permanently conserve one of the few remaining parcels of private land along Idaho’s spectacular South Fork Salmon River. In doing so, we will create unprecedented new access to over 100,000 acres of public lands that surround the ranch, and which are otherwise nearly impossible to reach.
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.
Idaho’s Salmon River plays host to one of the greatest fish migrations on earth, a journey of more than 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. As if distance weren’t enough, humans threw in eight dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, which salmon and steelhead must navigate before they even reach the Salmon River. After their epic journey, these fish finally reach their natal streams in the headwaters of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Up here, the snowcapped Sawtooths tower over small tributary streams that provide crucial habitat for chinook and sockeye salmon, steelhead and bull trout.