The Salmon River - A Living Legacy
The Salmon River is one of California's least-known ecological and scenic treasures. Flowing clean and cool from its headwaters in the Marble Mountain, Russian and Trinity Alps Wilderness Areas, it is a keystone refuge for threatened fish struggling to survive in the rest of the Klamath basin. It also provides some of the best whitewater recreation opportunities around.
Undammed, undiverted, the Salmon River puts more clean cold water into the mainstem Klamath than either the Scott or the Shasta Rivers, helping to maintain conditions in the lower Klamath that make it possible for the green sturgeon to continue to spawn here, in its last West Coast refuge. Similarly, it shelters the Klamath's largest surviving population of endangered spring chinook salmon, as well as threatened coho.
Klamath Forest Alliance is monitoring multiple timber sales and mining projects to protect this living legacy for future generations of salmon and people.
A Wild Place
The Klamath National Forest in northern California is 1.8 million acres and covers almost a third of the Klamath-Sisikiyou Mountains and a large portion of the Klamath Basin. More than 45% of the forest is roadless, and the Klamath adjoins five wilderness areas. It is home to the northern spotted owl, marten, fisher, and many rare and endangered plants — truly one of the wildest and most diverse places left in the U.S.
Klamath Fisheries The Lifeblood of Forests & People; in Peril
The Klamath River basin is home to native peoples, including the Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk and Klamath tribes, who depend on fisheries. The Salmon River is the most productive stream in the Klamath basin for chinook salmon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Salmon is also a refuge for endangered coho salmon, as well as green sturgeon, lamprey and steelhead - all proposed for protection.
The Salmon River provides as much water for the lower Klamath River as does the entire upper Basin. The Forest Service admits that the cool water of mid-Klamath tributaries, including the Salmon, keeps the mainstem river’s remnant fisheries alive.
Responding to the death of 68,000 chinook at the mouth of the Klamath, the National Research Council called for caution in further management of the Salmon watershed. “Logging and its associated road-building have greatly increased erosion on the steep and fragile slopes of the watershed and have reduced shading of small tributaries, thus increasing water temperatures,” the NRC wrote.
Nonetheless, the Forest Service is still planning multiple timber sales and destructive mining projects for the wild salmon river.