Western Rivers Conservancy’s motto is “Sometimes to save a river, you have to buy it.” WRC acquires prime river lands along our finest streams to conserve habitat, protect key sources of cold-water and provide public access for all to enjoy. WRC has created sanctuaries for fish and wildlife and improved public access along the Yampa, Hoh, Salmon, John Day, Madison, Skagit, Klamath, Eel, Smith, Bear and dozens of other rivers. It is the West’s only organization dedicated exclusively to saving rivers through land acquisition—an approach that is effective, tangible and permanent. Learn more about Western Rivers Conservancy at www.westernrivers.org.
Key Efforts on Great Rivers
John Day River, Oregon
Without a single dam on its entire length, Oregon’s John Day River is the longest free-flowing river west of the Rockies. It winds through a land of basalt canyons and sagebrush plateaus, where big summer moons light up wide-open skies. With bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, upland game birds and great fishing, the river is prized by anglers, hunters, boaters and wildlife-watchers from around the West. WRC is working to conserve thousands of acres and dozens of miles of this wild river and its key cold-water tributaries. By creating Cottonwood Canyon State Park (now Oregon’s largest state park), WRC opened some of the first public access on the lower river. Now, upstream at Thirtymile Creek, WRC is working to conserve the most important steelhead tributary to the lower river and secure access to a prime boating put-in along a 70-mile stretch where public access is virtually nonexistent.
Upper Rio Grande, Colorado
On Colorado’s upper Rio Grande, WRC is conserving prime fish and wildlife habitat and working to open access to this iconic river and some of its finest tributaries. Its work is focused on the high San Luis Valley, which sits at the western edge of the Central Flyway and provides crucial habitat for an array of migratory bird species including ducks, cranes, geese and roughly 95 percent of the Rocky Mountain’s sandhill crane population.
Klamath River, California
In the heart of the northern California redwoods, WRC is working in partnership with the Yurok Tribe to create a vast cold-water sanctuary for salmon and steelhead. The focus is Blue Creek, the first tributary that fish encounter on their migration inland from the Pacific Ocean. The most important source of cold-water for the lower river, Blue Creek is a lifeline for the entire system. WRC is helping the Yurok acquire over 47,000 acres of land, which will become the Blue Creek Salmon Sanctuary and Yurok Tribal Community Forest. As a result of this effort, the Yurok will regain the core of its spiritual homeland, and more than 73 square miles of temperate rainforest will be managed for conservation and health of the Klamath-Siskiyou region’s rare fish and wildlife.
Other Successes on Western Rivers
One of Western Rivers Conservancy’s earliest projects was in Montana, where it protected three miles of the Madison River at Three Dollar Bridge and ensured this cherished stretch of fly water will remain forever open to the public. In California, WRC conserved nearly the entire length of Goose Creek, the largest tributary to the Smith River, which is not only California’s last major undammed river, but one of the greatest rivers in the West. In Washington, WRC purchased and conserved nearly all the corporate-owned land along the Hoh River between Olympic National Park, which protects the headwaters, and the Pacific. The project ensured that the most biodiverse salmon stream in the Lower 48 was protected from headwaters to the mouth, and improved access for boaters, anglers, hikers and other river lovers.