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

Shasta Costa Creek

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Shasta Costa flows into the National Wild and Scenic Rogue River shortly after the river leaves the Wild Rogue Wilderness. With the exception of the Illinois River and its large tributaries, Shasta Costa is the most important of the  lower Rogue’s tributaries (below Graves Creek) in terms of fish production.

Shasta Costa was one of the Siskiyou National Forest’s hotly contested 18 roadless area timber sales in the early 1990s. The timber sale was supposed to be a model for the Forest Service’s New Perspective style sale. It was never implemented. First put on hold by the spotted owl lawsuits. Then in 1994, the Shasta Costa watershed was designated a Late Successional Forest Reserve and Key Watershed by the Northwest Forest Plan.

Now Shasta Costa is more threatened than ever because its watershed is checker board National Forest O&C land. Representatives DeFazio, Schrader and Walden’s O&C Trust Act would essentially privatize all National Forest O&C lands with forests 125 years of age to fund county services.

We’ve used the Shasta Costa Key Watershed as a case study to show the effects of the legislation on some of the steepest unstable National Forest land in Southwest Oregon. While there’s little stand age data available for most National Forest O&C lands but the 1990 Shasta Costa timber sale Final Environmental Impact Statement, provides stand age for Shasta Costa as well as Inventoried Roadless Area boundaries.

Many know Shasta Costa as the long emerald green watershed that the winding Bear Camp Road ascends. Boaters on their shuttle back to Grants Pass after running the Wild Rogue know is well. A pull-out view point part way up gives one a broad view into the heart of the Shasta Costa Inventoried Roadless Area. Dips in the paved road indicates Shasta Costa steep slopes are in constant motion. There’s a tendency in the watershed for large slump earth flows both natural and logging and road related.

Except for 20 acres of private land, the 23,434 acre watershed is entirely within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

ReferencesJim Britell has written extensive on the Forest Service’s New Perspectives and the proposed Shasta Costa timber sale. You can search his writing at

The University of Oregon Library online includes a list of Northwest Forest Plan documents and a link to the Plan’s Record of Decision, which is also available here.