By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

Upper Klamath RiverThe Yurok Tribe in northern California is set to enter into a unique partnership with a conservancy group so that it can protect a watershed and surrounding forest area.

The 47,000-acre Blue Creek watershed, which is near Redwood National Park, is an important habitat for endangered salmon and is culturally meaningful to the Tribe. The headwaters are protected as a federal wilderness area, but logging, road construction and grazing are commonplace at its lower channels. To conserve those areas, the Tribe will sign an agreement with the Western Rivers Conservancy. Funding mechanisms included selling greenhouse gas reduction credits through California’s carbon market, public and private sources and New Market Tax Credits.

“These are spiritual lands,” Amy Cordalis, the Tribe’s general counsel, told The Sacramento Bee. “We have always been a salmon people and centered our way of life around the Klamath.”

Protecting Blue Creek has been a conservancy goal. The waters are essential to salmon survival, and rare Pacific fishers, northern spotted owls and marbled murrelets inhabit the area too. “This is one of the most biologically rich areas on Earth,” Sue Doroff, co-founder and president of Western Rivers, told the newspaper.

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(Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.)