Western Rivers Conservancy has the rare opportunity to conserve four miles of the Snake River and to protect some of the most important bighorn sheep habitat in the Pacific Northwest. In August, 2018, we purchased the 2,920-acre Ten Mile Creek Ranch, which lies approximately 10 miles south of Lewiston, Idaho, between Hells Gate State Park to the north and the 78,000-acre Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area to the south.
Our efforts to conserve Ten Mile Creek Ranch will prevent subdivision and development of the property and the loss of key lambing habitat for Idaho’s Hells Canyon herd of bighorn sheep. The Hells Canyon herd numbers roughly 150 head, and upwards of 50 to 80 percent of the ewes birth and rear their lambs on the property. The ranch’s steep, rocky cliffs, provide crucial protection for the vulnerable lambs as they are nurtured toward maturity. Remarkably, Ten Mile Creek Ranch is one of only two private properties used for lambing by the Idaho-Hells Canyon herd.
Ten Mile Creek Ranch lies roughly 35 miles downstream from Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America and one of the most spectacular river reaches in the West. The Snake is the lifeblood of the canyon, tumbling out of the Great Basin and fed by some of the West’s most outstanding rivers on its way to the Columbia. The area’s fish, wildlife and botanical values are as important as its scenic, recreation and cultural attributes, and all are dependent on the health of the Snake River.
Despite massive dams that hobble the lower Snake, this stretch of the river remains critical for big game mammals, anadromous fish and resident and migratory birds. These include black bear, Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, mountain lion, spring and fall Chinook, summer steelhead, white sturgeon and well over 100 species of birds. Conserving Ten Mile Creek Ranch will preserve vital habitat for all of these animals, including multiple spawning redds for Chinook salmon.
Now that WRC owns the ranch, we are working on a long-term conservation solution that will keep the property intact for the benefit of the Snake River and its diverse fish and wildlife.
August 29, 2018
The Lewiston Tribune
August 28, 2018