A WILDLANDS CONSERVANCY Wilderness Preserve System linked by a National Wild and Scenic River
EEL RIVER ESTUARY PRESERVE
WELCOME TO THE EEL RIVER RECREATION AND WILDERNESS ADVOCACY WILD RUNS
EEL RIVER EMERALD NECKLACE THE VISION ACQUISITIONS
MEET THE WILDLANDS CONSERVANCY LAND CONSERVATION AND STEWARDSHIP OUTDOOR EDUCATION
39611 Oak Glen Road, Building 12 Oak Glen, CA 92399 (909) 797-8507 WildlandsConservancy.org
WELCOME TO THE EEL RIVER The 196-mile Eel River system is the third largest watershed river system in California draining into more than 3,500 square miles across five counties, all within the state. In 1981, the Eel River and its major tributaries were designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers. Recently, the Eel was identified as one of the most endangered river systems in the United States.
Ninety percent of the Wild and Scenic main stem is in unprotected private ownership along the riverâ€™s 150 mile course between the Cape Horn Dam to the Pacific Ocean. Significant public lands along the main stem are primarily limited to the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Eel River Wildlife Area at the north estuary managed by the California Department of Fish and Game.
THE EEL RIVER RUNS THROUGH SPYROCK RESERVE
PHOTO BY DAVID ERICKSON
AN UNPROTECTED LANDSCAPE
In California, wilderness preservation advocacy is challenged by changing recreational trends. Todayâ€™s young adults prefer mountain biking to backpacking. Since the Outdoor Industry Foundation started keeping records seven years ago, the numbers of backpackers have declined, but the number of kayak paddlers has doubled. The Eel River Wilderness Preserves will be a premiere wilderness experience and address many of the most popular forms of outdoor recreation including, fishing (36%), hiking (34%), camping (30%), and paddling (14%). If the Northwestern Pacific Railroad was converted to a trail that included bicycle use, it could entice one of Americaâ€™s most popular outdoor user groups, bicycling (39%), to camp on the wilderness edge.
RECREATION AND WILDERNESS ADVOCACY
At Dos Rios, the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork merges with the main stem of the Eel River. Two unique, passive recreation opportunities converge with these magnificent rivers. First, the river’s northbound waters become easy to navigate by raft, kayak, and canoe—all the way to the barking sea lions sunning on the shore as it empties into the Pacific. Second, the inoperable Northwestern Pacific Railroad runs along the river and creates an unparalleled 120-mile “rails to trails” opportunity.
"The singular fact that distinguishes the Eel River is that its salmon and steelhead could be brought back to higher abundance than perhaps any other river in California." -Darren Mierau, North Coast Director, California Trout.
WILD RUNS More than a half-million salmon and steelhead trout once ran the Eel River annually. Two dams have blocked the main stem of the Eel River for nearly a century, diverting up to 90 percent of the summer flow, preventing salmon and steelhead runs from reaching hundreds of miles of spawning grounds. Today, the salmon and steelhead runs are at an all-time low. The Eel River Emerald Necklace project will complement existing efforts to restore the Eel River and will serve to convince officials that they have a private-sector partner dedicated to land stewardship and the riverâ€™s restoration. TWC has partnered with California Trout, the California Coastal Conservancy, and a team of engineers and hydrologists on our Eel River Estuary Preserve to re-connect the sloughs and creek systems, and restore tidal influence, and create an 80-acre juvenile salmonid nursery.
The Wildlands Conservancy will target major ranch and forest lands that have substantial frontage and important biological, cultural and scenic value on the Main Stem of the Eel River. With opportunities for rafting or kayaking, the vision is to give people a journey back in time. Explorers will approach magnificent forests and breathtaking views by way of the river, and so change the dynamic of their nature experience.
THE VISION | ACQUISITION AND ACCESS TWC MUST SECURE FUNDING PARTNERS FOR CONTINUED ACQUISITION OF LANDS AND RANCHES LIKE THE 6,530-ACRE ROLLING MEADOW IN HUMBOLDT COUNTY.
RESTORATION AT WHITEWATER PRESERVE | FROM TROUT HATCHERY TO NATURE PRESERVE | BEFORE AND AFTER
THE VISION | HABITAT PROTECTION AND REHABILITATION This great western river deserves a landscape protection program as inspiring as the ancient redwoods on its banks and the heroic landscapes that rise from its shores. The Wildlands Conservancyâ€™s goal in establishing the Eel River Emerald Necklace is to acquire a system of preserves along the Emerald River between Dos Rios and the Pacific. These preserves will help protect over 75 mammal species and over 400 bird species found in the watershed. Preserve stewardship will focus on habitat restoration, removing roads and re-wilding wilderness areas passive recreation and outdoor education.
The Eel River Emerald Necklace will be an excellent site for The Wildlands Conservancy to carry out its dual mission of landscape preservation and outdoor education. A â€œRiver Questâ€? program will immerse young people with the rhythms of nature as they learn among noble stands of redwoods and alongside the calming Eel River. Hands on lessons, including riparian, terrestrial, and marine ecology, will foster an understanding and respect of nature and a lifelong love of natural beauty. Programs will promote self-confidence and self-esteem, and the opening of minds and hearts to new hopes and new horizons.
PHOTO BY DAVID ERICKSON
THE VISION | OUTDOOR EDUCATION AND THE EEL RIVER
PHOTO BY DAN YORK
THE FIRST ACQUISITIONS | SPYROCK RESERVE In July 2005, The Wildlands Conservancy acquired the 5,832-acre Spyrock Ranch for $2,900,000. The scenic Spyrock Ranch has five miles of Eel River frontage and draws its name from the 540-foot conical rock promontory that rises from its eastern shore. The Reserve is eleven miles by air northwest of Covelo in pastoral Round Valley and ten miles by river from Dos Rios. The habitat is a mosaic of white oak, live oak, maple, and bay laurel woodlands, grasslands, and clustered stands of fir. From dramatic rock outcroppings to year round creek bottoms, roams abundant wildlife, including deer, mountain lions, bear, and bobcats. Bald eagles, osprey, and Pacific pond turtles occur on the river frontage. Anadromous fish species include Chinook and coho salmon, as well as steelhead trout. In years to come, these wilderness enclaves will make a river trip a journey back in time.
In August of 2008, TWC acquired the Connick Ranch, with 1100 acres of beachfront, coastal wetlands, sloughs, and creeks, and a quarter mile of frontage along the south spit of the Eel River creating the Eel River Estuary Preserve. This incredibly diverse landscape provides habitat for migratory waterfowl, shore birds, and raptors. Rare plant species including dark-eyed gilia, Humboldt Bay's owl clover and beach layia. The brackish waters of the sloughs provide critical habitat for the threatened tidewater goby.
PHOTO BY DAVID CLENDENEN
THE SECOND ACQUISITION | EEL RIVER ESTUARY PRESERVE
In 2009, TWC purchased two-and-a-half miles of adjoining dunes and ocean frontage through a grant from the Irving and Jean Stone Foundation, creating the Sounding Seas Dunes Reserve, replete with harbor seals and sea lions, and scores of marine birds, including the snowy plover, a federally endangered species with only 2,000 birds surviving.
PHOTO BY DAN YORK
THE THIRD ACQUISITION | SOUNDING SEAS DUNES RESERVE
MEET THE WILDLANDS CONSERVANCY Since 1995, The Wildlands Conservancy is dedicated to its dual mission to preserve the beauty and biodiversity of the earth and to provide programs so that children will know the wonder and joy of nature. In working toward this mission, The Wildlands Conservancy, through strategic acquisition, has created the largest nonprofit nature preserve system in California. Encompassing 142,000 acres across fifteen remarkable and important landscapes. This system, which includes the 93,000-acre Wind Wolves Preserve, the largest nonprofit preserve on the west coast, continues to expand as TWC works to save heroic lands threatened by exploitation. To this end, The Wildlands Conservancy now owns and stewards more land than any other nonprofit organization in California.
PHOTO BY JACK THOMPSON
JENNER HEADLANDS PRESERVE, SONOMA COUNTY
The Wildlands Conservancy is uniquely qualified to operate a wilderness preserve system on the North Coast. In a region where there is a resistance to increased government ownership and taking lands off the county tax roles, TWC, as a private owner, will continue to pay taxes and keep properties in the Williamson Act. As Californiaâ€™s largest nonprofit land steward, TWC fills the conservation land management void with its dedicated staff of biologists, botanists, preserve managers, outdoor educators, rangers, and restoration professionals.
LAND CONSERVATION AND STEWARDSHIP BAKERSFIELD CACTUS RESTORATION AT WIND WOLVES PRESERVE
PHOTO BY JACK THOMPSON
MOJAVE TRAILS NATIONAL MONUMENT
CONSERVATION OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE The Wildlands Conservancy focuses on California land conservation projects of national significance, creating a legacy of conservation. Fifteen years ago, The Wildands Conservancy gifted to the U.S. Department of the Interior the largest conservation land gift in American historyâ€”over 560,000 acres in the Mojave Desertâ€”which became the impetus to declare the 1.8 million-acre Mojave Trails National Monument and the 154,000-acre Sand to Snow National Monument. Through the vision and generosity of donors, the Eel River Emerald Necklace will preserve lands of national significance and become a grand conservation and recreation legacy.
PHOTO BY JACK THOMPSON
OUTDOOR EDUCATION AT OAK GLEN PRESERVE
A LEGACY OF OUTDOOR EDUCATION Not only does The Wildlands Conservancy conserve land, it opens these protected lands to the public free of charge for recreation and outdoor education. Each year more than a half-million people enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, picnicking, and more, on TWCâ€™s preserves. In addition to recreation opportunities, interpretive programs led by naturalists and docents offer an outdoor education experience like no other in the state. Programs encourage a connection with nature so that future generations will continue to protect these magnificent landscapes. Through offering free, curriculum-based outdoor education field trips, The Wildlands Conservancy has established itself as the leader in providing free outdoor education to students, having provided or funded programs for more than 1.1 million California youth.