Western Rivers Conservancy Programs
Oregon’s John Day River is one of the West’s great rivers and a globally significant stronghold of wild steelhead and salmon. WRC began work on the John Day in 2008 by purchasing the 8,015-acre Murtha Ranch, spanning 16 river miles, together with its 8,000-acre BLM grazing lease. We have conveyed these lands to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to establish Oregon’s largest state park, Cottonwood Canyon State Park, slated to open in autumn, 2013. We are now working to extend the fish and wildlife sanctuary upstream and downstream of Murtha Ranch.
In the coastal temperate rainforest of California, WRC is conserving 47,000 acres along the lower Klamath River and Blue Creek. The Blue Creek Salmon Sanctuary- Yurok Tribal Preserve Project is: establishing a salmon sanctuary and tribal preserve; returning ancestral lands to the Yurok Tribe; and enhancing the Tribe’s culture and economy. In April 2011, WRC and the Yurok Tribe completed the purchase of more than 22,000 acres of sustainable forestlands. WRC is now working to protect the entire lower watershed of Blue Creek, a critical cold-water refuge for migrating salmon.
On Colorado’s Yampa River, WRC is purchasing and protecting the 920-acre Gumpdrop Ranch at the entrance to Cross Mountain Canyon. Located strategically along the middle Yampa and adjacent to BLM’s Cross Mountain Wilderness Study Area (WSA), protection of the ranch will provide new public access to 88,000 acres of public lands, including outstanding hiking, hunting and whitewater opportunities. We are now working to place the property in permanent conservation stewardship with the BLM, ensuring public access to Cross Mountain Canyon and the WSA for all time.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
The Hoh River on the Olympic Peninsula is renowned for its scenic beauty, healthy native fish runs and towering rainforests. Downstream of the Hoh’s pristine headwaters in Olympic National Park, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) has worked for a decade to acquire land along the Hoh’s lower thirty miles.
WRC has purchased and protected all of the major corporate-owned land along the lower 30 miles of the Hoh River, totaling nearly 7,000 acres. In September 2009, Western Rivers Conservancy conveyed the last 2,000 acres of these lands to the Hoh River Trust. The Trust's mission is to act as permanent owner and steward of the Hoh River conservation and recreation area for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.
Western Rivers Conservancy buys land from corporate and individual willing sellers and places land in permanent protective stewardship. In 2013, some of the streams we are working on include the Little Cimarron in Colorado, the North Santiam in Oregon and Blue Creek in California. Resources from the Seattle Foundation’s donor advisors support essential land conservation operating costs, as we create new river parks and protected corridors for fish, wildlife and people.