Salmon saviors

Nature Conservancy buys historic coho habitat

Hoping to buoy the population of endangered coho salmon, a conservation group has put up massive amounts of money to purchase a 4,000-acre ranch historically known as a breeding ground for the species.

The Nature Conservancy paid $14.2 million for Shasta Big Springs Ranch earlier this month, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

Located in Siskiyou County, the ranch is home to more than two miles of Big Springs Creek—a tributary of the Shasta River and a once-fertile spawning habitat for coho (the third-largest producer in the lower 48 states).

Coho were listed under the federal Endangered Species Act four years ago, and only 30 of the fish returned to Big Springs this winter to spawn. Conservationists say the culprit is grazing cattle, which ate down native plants and battered the spring-fed creek into a wide, shallow and warm waterway.