The American West is a big place, and for those who live here, it can mean different things. But if you start pulling people aside and asking them what they love about it, the answers begin to look the same. The open space. The wildlife. The mountains. The trails. The fish. And, of course, that aqueous element of the natural world that ties it all together: rivers.
If there is a moment when we need to pay extra attention to our rivers, it’s now. The first reason should be clear: The health of our rivers, and all that depends on them, are increasingly threatened. But there is another reason. Rivers are the link between us—between rural and urban, angler and hiker, hunter and paddler, boater and bird watcher—a link that is now, more than ever, critical to cultivate and protect.
Western Rivers Conservancy accomplishes as much as we do because we have the support of people from all walks of life: anglers and hunters need healthy streams and public access. Ranch owners want to leave a legacy of open space for future generations. Paddlers need boating access. Hikers need trail access. And people everywhere need clean water, public lands and healthy rivers.
Without healthy rivers for fish and wildlife, we lose what brings us together. We all want a West that has strong runs of salmon and steelhead. We want rivers that teem with trout, mountain whitefish and all the other species of fish that make up a functioning stream. We want to look around us and see pronghorn through the sagebrush, herds of elk in the forest, and peregrine falcons and canyon wrens on the cliff sides.
This annual report, like all annual reports, is a look back. Last year, we accomplished a lot for our rivers. But taking stock of these accomplishments is also (and perhaps even more so) a look forward. All of these projects were and are an investment in the future—in our future, the future of the West, the future for our children and the future of the incredible fish and wildlife that depend on our rivers to survive.
Thanks to your support, WRC was able to launch, continue or complete projects on 38 rivers and streams across the West in 2017. From the Sonoran Desert in Arizona to the rain-soaked forests of Washington, we are making a lasting difference for our rivers and the fish and wildlife that need them. We’re also making a difference for each and every one of us—because we all need healthy rivers.
Thank you for making this important work possible. We hope to see you on the river.
Three decades ago, Western Rivers Conservancy set out to protect the finest remaining rivers in the West. Our idea was simple: Buy land along rivers and convey it to the best long-term steward available, delivering permanent protection and public access for all. Our efforts have paid off. Over the past 30 years we have conserved 162,567 acres along 169 rivers and streams in nine states. Today, our projects include some of the most important conservation efforts in the West.