WRC Blog

Almost There! WRC Makes Final Purchase to Save Blue Creek

Mar 27th, 2017  |  Written by Western Rivers Conservancy

Almost There! WRC Makes Final Purchase to Save Blue Creek
Photo by Dave Jensen.

In northern California, Western Rivers Conservancy has purchased the final 8,582 acres in our effort to forever protect Blue Creek, the lifeline of the Klamath River. This extraordinary step puts us within striking distance of completing the Blue Creek Salmon Sanctuary and Yurok Tribal Community Forest, a 73 square-mile preserve in the heart of redwood country. WRC is now working to convey the land to the Yurok people for permanent conservation.

The centerpiece of this historic effort is Blue Creek, the most important cold-water tributary to the Klamath River. Nearly all salmon and steelhead that return to the Klamath River hold at Blue Creek, lowering their body temperature enough to survive the journey inland to spawn. The Klamath is getting progressively warmer, and the refuge that Blue Creek provides is crucial, especially for summer and fall-run fish that return when the river can be lethally warm.

The Klamath River is the third largest salmon stream on the West Coast. Without Blue Creek and the cold water it provides, the Klamath’s salmon runs would likely perish. Given the stream’s importance, WRC has been working in partnership with the Yurok people and Green Diamond Resource Company, the former owner of the lower Blue Creek watershed, to conserve 47,000 acres of temperate rainforest by returning it to the Yurok, who will manage the lands for the sake of fish and wildlife. Blue Creek is the crown jewel of the Yurok spiritual homeland, and the Tribe shares WRC’s conservation vision for Blue Creek and the Klamath River.

Once WRC conveys the land to the Yurok, Blue Creek will be conserved in its entirety. From its forested headwaters, which are already protected within the Siskiyou Wilderness, to its confluence with the Klamath River, Blue Creek will be a sanctuary for the incredible fish and wildlife that define this remote and wild stretch of the western United States. The final steps are underway, and with your continued support, we will make it happen.