Western Rivers Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management announced this week the conservation of 245 acres of fish and wildlife habitat along Boulder Creek, a tributary to the Wild and Scenic Salmon River in the Sandy River basin.
Western Rivers Conservancy, a nonprofit river protection organization based in Portland, purchased this sensitive timberland from Clackamas County and conveyed it to the BLM for habitat protection and public recreational access. The property lies within the Wild and Scenic River corridor of the Salmon River – the primary fish-producing stream in the Sandy River basin. Boulder Creek, along with the Salmon River, were designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers as part of the Omnibus Oregon Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1988.
“Acquiring this land is great news for the Sandy River fishery,” said Sue Doroff, Western Rivers Conservancy’s executive vice president. “Boulder Creek lies at the heart of the best salmon and steelhead habitat in the Sandy basin, and protecting it is vital for recovering wild salmon and steelhead in the lower Columbia.”
Boulder Creek was named an Anchor Habitat for spring chinook listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, winter steelhead and winter coho in the 2006 Sandy River Basin Anchor Habitat and Restoration Strategy, released by the Sandy River Basin Partners. The strategy was a result of a comprehensive study of the area undertaken by a team of expert federal, state, local and private fisheries biologists.
Located within 25 miles of more than one-third of Oregon’s citizens, the Sandy River basin is considered a scenic and recreational treasure. Hikers, anglers and wildlife viewers enjoy the Sandy’s deep gorges, adventurous whitewater, runs of wild salmon and steelhead and the Oregon Trail tracing its northern edge.
Western Rivers Conservancy has been acquiring lands within the Sandy River basin since 1999 and has preserved more than 3,000 acres including 13 miles on the Sandy River, Little Sandy River, Salmon River and other tributaries. The BLM has taken title to all these lands, combining them with existing BLM holdings to connect a larger 9,000-acre natural resource area that is greatly expanding recreational opportunities in the Sandy River basin. Clackamas County is reinvesting the proceeds of the sales into future parks and forest land acquisitions.
“This transaction helps to achieve the county’s goals for habitat and resource protection, while also achieving the larger vision for creating scenic areas and preserving recreation opportunities,” said Gary Barth, Clackamas County’s director of Business and Community Services. “The county has been the steward of this land for the past 77 years, and we are happy to hand that responsibility to the BLM for continued resource management.”
“This is a perfect example of a conservation organization working together with the local and federal government to assemble a beautiful natural area and retain the public’s access to scenic trails and expanding recreation opportunities,” said Miles Brown, Salem District manager, BLM, “This is an important step in a long-term conservation effort that the BLM is committed to with our partners. The results are good for the river and good for the community.”
Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Congressman Earl Blumenauer have played an essential role in securing $13.3 million in appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the Sandy since 2001. With funding from the LWCF, Western Rivers Conservancy is conveying Sandy River lands to the BLM to protect sensitive fish and wildlife habitat as well as create a public resource for hikers, floaters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Western Rivers Conservancy is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect outstanding river ecosystems in the western United States. WRC acquires land to conserve critical habitat, provide public access for compatible use and enjoyment, and cooperate with other agencies and organizations to secure the health of whole ecosystems. www.westernrivers.org
Bureau of Land Management manages more land – 245 million surface acres – than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 western States, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.