Protecting the beautiful rivers, wild lands and legendary botanical diversity of Oregon's Kalmiopsis Country

North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area

Oregon’s third largest Roadless Area

The North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area, at 88,582 acres, is the second largest Inventoried Roadless Area in Oregon, following closely after the 105,000 acre South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area.

The North Kalmiopsis is actually the larger, if one adds in the 19,000 acres that were helicopter logged in the wake of the 1987 Silver Creek. But to complicate matters there’s the parts of the North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area that were logged under the Bush Administration in 2006.[1]

While essentially pieces of the same whole, the quicks of the Forest Service’s RARE II inventories in the 1970s—which split the unprotected wilderness adjacent to the congressionally protect Kalmiopsis Wilderness—are not easily undone. The North and South Kalmiopsis also have their own unique character and values. Therefore, we discuss the North and South Kalmiopsis separately.

Silver Creek is one of two Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers in the North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area. The direct tributary of the Wild Section of the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River provides many miles of pristine salmon and steelhead habitat for the world renowned lower Wild and Scenic Rogue River. Photo Barbara Ullian
Silver Creek is one of two Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers in the North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area. The direct tributary of the Wild Section of the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River provides many miles of pristine salmon and steelhead habitat for the world renowned lower Wild and Scenic Rogue River. Photo Barbara Ullian.

Watershed to the Wild and Scenic Illinois River | Silver, Indigo and Lawson Creeks

Most of all the North Kalmiopsis is watershed to important wild fisheries and the famed Wild Section of the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River,

Two Forest Service Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers—Silver and Indigo Creeks—flow through the North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area, as does Lawson Creek, All three streams are tributary to the famed Wild River Area of the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River.

Silver and Indigo Creek have been found outstandingly remarkable for the wild salmon and steelhead they produce. The strictly wild fish populations of these three large lower tributaries of the Illinois River are an essential part of the world class fishery of the lower Wild and Scenic Rogue River though with the Illinois River are seldom recognized for their contribution. Simply put the lower Rogue would be seriously impoverished without the input of the Illinois River and its tributaries.

In the summer, Silver, Indigo and Lawson Creeks serve another important function by providing the Rogue River’s summer steelhead trout cool water refugia where the creeks flow into the Illinois River.

Watershed to the Wild and Scenic Chetco River | Mislatnah Creek

Mislatnah Creek, an important tributary of the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River, flows through a northwest section of the North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area. The National Wild and Scenic Chetco River, with California’s Wild and Scenic Smith River are world class salmon and steelhead streams known for their large mint bright fish.

The North Kalmiopsis Mislatnah arm is a 4,477 acre U.S. Forest Service Recommended Addition to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

Notes and References

[1] The Clinton Roadless Area Conservation Rule is supposed to prevent logging and new road construction in Inventoried Roadless Areas across the nation. However, it did not prevent post Biscuit Fire logging in both the South and the North Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas under the Bush Administration. The rule also allows motorized recreation in IRAs. This type of activity poses a significant threat to the integrity of the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area, in particular.

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use is unregulated in the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas. Irresponsible OHV users are impacting the area’s unique serpentine terrain and rare plant habitat. It has already resulted in irreversible impacts to many miles of Roadless Area streams through the introduction of Port Orford cedar root disease, a non-native pathogen that fatal to Port Orford cedar, often the principle riparian conifer along streams flowing through serpentine terrain.

See also Wikipedia on Port Orford cedar and the USDA’s Celebrating Wildflowers on Port Orford cedar.Mining, the  most significant threat to the integrity of these large Roadless Areas—especially the South Kalmiopsis— is also not addressed in the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. So it offer no protection against nickel strip mining proposals such as that at Rough and Ready Creek.