Oregon’s revered North Umpqua River is one of the finest streams in the Pacific Northwest. It is one of only two Oregon rivers that flow from the Cascades through the Coast Range to the Pacific. All other coastal streams have their headwaters in the Coast Range. The North Umpqua is also one of the few designated Salmon Strongholds in Oregon, with healthy runs of spring Chinook, coho salmon and summer steelhead. It has good numbers of resident rainbow and cutthroat trout, and its water quality is outstanding. The river is also a recreational treasure, prized by fly anglers the world over. It is flanked by the spectacular 79-mile North Umpqua National Recreational Trail for most of its length and has 33 miles of designated fly-fishing-only water.
Western Rivers Conservancy permanently conserved the 211-acre Swiftwater Tract in spring 2017, an effort that preserved important habitat for imperiled fish and wildlife and prevented logging and development along the river. The project ensured continued public access to an important reach of the national trail and to a coveted stretch of fly water. The parcels lie within multiple protected areas, including the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River corridor, the Rogue-Umpqua National Scenic Byway, the North Umpqua Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA), the North Umpqua Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the North Umpqua National Recreation Trail and the Oregon State Scenic Waterway.
The Swiftwater property occupies nearly a mile of North Umpqua frontage on both banks of the river and contains a largely unbroken stand of old-growth forest. Douglas fir dominates the over-story with additions of sugar pine, incense cedar, western red cedar, white fir and western hemlock. There are several high quality gravel beds within the property that provide spawning habitat, including nearly a mile of designated Oregon Coast Coho Critical Habitat. The forest itself provides habitat for diverse wildlife species, including northern spotted owl (threatened), bald eagle, Roosevelt elk, black bear, river otter and many others.
WRC’s acquisition of the Swiftwater tract placed a cherished reach of North Umpqua riverlands into permanent protection within the BLM section of the Wild and Scenic River corridor. It kept a prime trailhead at the start of the National Recreation Trail in public ownership, ensuring Douglas County residents and river lovers from around the world have access to this stretch of the North Umpqua in perpetuity.
Funding for the North Umpqua Project was made possible through generous contributions from multiple sources, including the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Meyer Memorial Trust, The Steamboaters, the Taylor and Alice Alexander Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, the Martha Staley Marks Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation and with the generous support of many additional individuals, foundations and businesses.
This project was also made possible thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, America's most important federal conservation and recreation program. LWCF has protected critical open space and public lands in nearly every state and every county in the U.S.