December 18, 2012

WRC Buys dramatic bend of Idaho's Salmon River

Photography | Photo: Salmon River, by Dave Jensen.

Hallowed among waterways of the West, Idaho’s Salmon River is the longest, cleanest and wildest river of its size in the region. Its name pays homage to one of the toughest anadromous salmon journeys anywhere — a 900 mile trip from the Pacific Ocean over numerous Columbia and Snake River dams and ending in Idaho’s vast mountain country, much of it protected within the largest wilderness area in the Lower Forty Eight.

Western Rivers Conservancy is excited to announce the October purchase of a private 1,284-acre property on the lower Salmon River. Prized for its rare habitat, scenery, cultural sites and recreational access, the property adjoins the Bureau of Land Management’s Pine Bar Recreation Site, just west of the town of Grangeville.

The steep, bowl-shaped tract crowns a dramatic vista above a large river bend. A line of trophy homes could have been the future for this site, but acquisition ensures the view will belong to everyone—campers, boaters, anglers and the bighorn sheep and mule deer that watch over the solitude of the canyon.

The land also provides habitat for white-tailed deer, cougar, black bear, Rocky Mountain elk, and likely prairie falcon, Brewer’s sparrow, western toad, and two species of threatened mountain snails. Two botanical rarities are thought to bloom here—Spalding’s catchfly and MacFarlane’s four o’clock — and grasslands likely contain Tolmie’s onion, Hazel’s phlox, and other sensitive flora.

The Pine Bar site is a favorite put-in for boaters floating the lower Salmon, and several large beaches make ideal spots to camp, picnic and swim. Preserving this property will ensure the unspoiled beauty of the canyon will endure, and forever support the rare wildlife, plants, and of course the river’s outstanding salmon.

Salmon River Chinook may have once been the most abundant on Earth. Today the river retains key habitat for spring, summer and fall Chinook, steelhead, bull trout and sockeye. These runs are among the most critical in the Columbia River basin.

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