Conservation Alliance grantee Western Rivers Conservancy reports key progress in its effort to protect the 8,000-acre Murtha Ranch on Oregon's John Day River. The effort would also secure an 8,000-acre BLM grazing lease, placing more than 16,000 acres into conservation ownership. Western Rivers' goal is to transfer ownership of the ranch to Oregon State Parks. Last month, the state parks commission approved spending $2.2 million to purchase roughly 25 percent of the ranch, putting the project on track to be completed within the next two years. The John Day River is the largest undammed tributary of the Columbia River, and holds the basin's healthiest populations of salmon and steelhead. The Murtha Ranch project supplements another successful project completed earlier this year by another Alliance grantee, Oregon Natural Desert Association, to secure federal Wilderness protection for the 8,000-acre Spring Basin Wilderness, also along the John Day, upstream from Murtha.