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American River Headwaters Project

Acquisition Complete, Restoration Planned

Thank you Supporters!

On August 5, 2015, the American River Conservancy closed escrow on its largest conservation acquisition ever: 10,000 acres of forested landscape at the headwaters of the North and Middle Forks of the American River. This land extends from 5,500’ in elevation to 8,500’. The area contains 20.2 miles of blue ribbon trout streams, some supporting 4,000 young-of–the-year trout per mile. The property contains 1,200 acres of stringer and wet meadows that support large deer herds, black bear, and songbirds including the rare pine grosbeak. Popular public trails and race events run through this land, including the Western States Endurance Run and the Tevis Cup Endurance Ride. In normal years, this headwaters land catches snow and rain, stores it within meadows and releases cold, quality water throughout dry summers to support native trout fisheries and thirsty communities downstream in Sacramento and throughout central and southern California. 

A successful partnership between American River Conservancy The Nature Conservancy and Northern Sierra Partnership  has helped advance this project. To date we have raised $14.5 million for the acquisition, stewardship endowment, and restoration. We are proud to report that over 2300 private donors lent support to this acquisition with donations from $5.00 to over $1 million. All together $9.5 Million was raised from private sources (65%). The State of California also contributed $5 million to the acquisition: $3.5 million from the Wildlife Conservation Board and $1.5 million from the California Natural Resources Agency.

Now that we have successfully acquired this land, the work has only just begun!

THE VISION: We envision an upper American River watershed of spectacular beauty and biodiversity, with healthy forests that are resilient to naturally occurring wildfire, rivers and streams that support an abundance of native fish, and a network of trails that enable the public to enjoy the scenic and ecological richness of this property. 

Historically, the slow-growing forests of this high-elevation landscape have been harvested for timber and managed for lumber production. Clear-cut areas have been sprayed with herbicide and 44 miles of roads and culverts have been built, causing barriers to fish reproduction, erosion and sedimentation of streams and pollution of our water supply. Old forest has been significantly reduced, impacting wildlife entirely dependent on these old forests.  We believe we can do better. We believe we can enhance old forest habitats, protected corridors and habitat values. We believe we can increase the fire resiliency of the forest, not preventing wildfires but reducing their impacts. We believe over time, we can improve the quality of water flowing from these headwaters downstream to support native fisheries, metropolitan communities and agricultural areas.  Over the next four years, as soon as planning and permitting is completed, ARC will offer volunteer stewardship opportunities within these scenic 10,000 acres.

Explore the American River Headwaters:



Press Release


Letters Of Support



We need your support to steward this exceptional property and leave a healthy legacy for future generations.
Click on the map below for a detailed image of the property



Our Partners & Supporters

Northern Sierra

California Natural Resources Agency