Utilizing the lens of political ecology and comparative case-study analysis, this essay examines various means of conservation deployed on the Wild and Scenic North Fork American River in Placer County, California. Comparing and contrasting the power structures behind conservation easements, truly private efforts, and fee simple purchases to understand the resulting ecological realities, these cases illuminate efforts by private individuals, conservation-minded groups, and professional land conservation organizations that have resulted in widespread protections for large swaths of the drainage. The groups discussed are inspired by the North Fork's landscape, coming together in various ways for a singular purpose: to protect the drainage. By catalyzing the formation of these various groups, the North Fork creates (Larsen & Johnson 2016). Assessing the disparate means by which groups have sought protections, the successes and challenges enjoyed and endured, yields understanding of the biophysical reality and the personality or landscape of the North Fork American River.