NEWS

Ray’s shoppers can help Klamath salmon habitat restoration

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Local Ray’s Food Place shoppers have an opportunity to help the Western Rivers Conservancy and the Yurok tribe purchase a 47,000 acre tract of land, which  includes the lower watershed of Blue Creek, considered to be critical Klamath salmon and steelhead habitat. 

Through the end of this year, a purchase of any Organic Valley product from Ray’s Food Place stores will earn shoppers EcoUnit credits that they can redeem to support the Blue Creek/Klamath purchase, as well as other projects being managed by Western Rivers.

“We believe this partnership is a great fit for our company and our commitment to supporting the communities that we are a part of,” remarked Greg Sandeno of C&K Market, Inc., parent company of Ray’s Food Place.

Buying land for conservation

Western Rivers Conservancy is an independent, non-profit organization that identifies key riverlands and enters negotiations with private landowners to purchase and conserve them. They then transfer ownership to private or public stewards who share similar conservation goals.

The organization recently purchased a 160 acre tract of land along the South Fork of the Trinity River, which, after restoration efforts, was transfered to the Shasta Trinity National Forest.

Other California projects include land along Deer Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River system, located in the Sierra foothills, as well as the purchase of a parcel along the Eel River Estuary.

From timberland to tribal land

 The land along the Klamath is currently owned  by the Green Diamond Resource Company and has been used as timberland.

“The first 22,000 acres acquired, including the 5,500 acres just acquired in September, will be managed by the Tribe for watershed protection, fish and wildlife habitat, cultural resources and sustainable forestry,”?states a recent Western Rivers press release. “The remaining 25,000 acres, including the lower watershed of Blue Creek, will be managed as a Yurok Tribal Park for salmon, wildlife, cultural site protection and ecotourism.”

“We rarely do something this big,” said senior project manager Cam Tredennick, adding that his organization has worked with Green Diamond in the past and that this has proved helpful.  

He also said that his organization, as a general rule, does not disclose the amount paid for its land deals. 

Key tributary

Once the second biggest producer of salmon on the West Coast, the Klamath River’s great salmon runs have dwindled dramatically.

Because of Blue Creek’s proximity to the mouth of the river, it is considered to be particularly important for migrating salmon. 

“Blue Creek will be protected as a coldwater haven where fish can survive when Klamath River water temperatures go up and flows go down,” states a Western Rivers press release.

In addition to offering high-quality habitat for chinook and coho salmon, as well as steelhead, the watershed also provides essential wildlife habitat for marbled murrelet, Northern spotted owl, deer, elk and bear.

Conscious consumerism

“Consumers today are learning that their buying decisions impact the environment, especially when it comes to food purchases,” said Tripp Hughes, director of category management for Organic Valley.

At the time of their purchase of Organic Valley products, Ray’s customers will receive a voucher that they can then use to go online (http://ov.ecounit.com) and donate the credits to the project of their choice.

While many local residents may be particularly interested in the Blue Creek project, credits can also be redeemed to support other projects, including willow tree planting along a lower tributary of Oregon's John Day River and similar restoration efforts along Oregon’s Elk River, to name a few.

Participants are eligible to win one year of free organics (52 products) from Organic Valley, a prize that will be awarded to three Ray’s Food Place shoppers.