It’s a land of endless ridges, deep boulder strewn canyons and some of the most beautiful, productive wild salmon and steelhead rivers in the West. Three National Wild and Scenic Rivers flow through the Kalmiopsis Wildlands—the Illinois, Chetco and North Fork Smith. All were added to the Wild and Scenic River System in recognition of their outstandingly remarkable water quality, fisheries, scenery and recreation values. The Illinois River also has nationally outstanding botanical values.
In addition to the three congressionally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Siskiyou National Forest has found five tributaries of these rivers “eligible” to also be added to the National Wild and Scenic River System. They are: Baldface, Rough and Ready, Josephine/Canyon, Silver and Indigo Creeks.
The terrain of the Kalmiopsis Wildlands is diverse, highly dissected, steep and rugged—often in the extreme. It’s rivers and streams reflect the integrity and diversity of the landscapes they flow through.
Despite being technically part of the Pacific Northwest, extensive areas of the Wildlands are desert-like in appearance due to the prevalence of the serpentine terrain of a very old geologic feature known as the Josephine ophiolite. Often wrongly lumped with dryer inland forest types, precipitation in the Wildlands can range from 60 to 160 inches annually. All of the rivers of the Wildlands are free flowing from their headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.
A narrow 1/2 mile corridor on the rivers designated as Wild and Scenic is partially protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is supposed to provide interim protection for the five “eligible” Wild and Scenic Rivers. Other streams were reviewed in the early 1990s but not found eligible at the time. However, new information indicates that the list of “eligible” Wild and Scenic Rivers needs to be undated and expanded.
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