The Nature Conservancy has paid $14.2 million for 4,543 acres of the Shasta Big Springs Creek Ranch in Siskiyou County, Calif., where it plans to restore about 20 miles of stream. It has secured a conservation easement on the ranch's remaining 407 acres, where the rancher will continue to live and work.
The Shasta River and Big Springs Creek, whose cold waters are important to juvenile salmon, pass through the ranch on their way to the Klamath River. From the conservancy's news release :
...the area could also become one of the last and best strongholds for coho and other salmon species in California.
Cleaning up the cow's act is actually a big deal. When you think "suffering salmon" on the Klamath River, maybe those charismatic mega-villains, the dams run by PacifiCorp, pop into your head.
But Felice Pace, keen river watcher, has been trying to tell us to think "ag." Check out his March 1 post on Klamblog about the North Coast Water Quality Control Board's effort to develop a plan to restore the officially impaired Klamath's water quality. Says Pace:
The #1 source of these impairments is well established but not well known: it is the agriculture industry.
That isn't to say ranchers aren't stepping up with their own solutions. Our Japhet Weeks explored this in his 2007 piece on upper Klamath basin ranching .