Northwest California is one of the most spectacular and biologically diverse places on earth. From the fog-shrouded redwood forests of Humboldt County to the sunny oak woodlands and grasslands of Mendocino, from the soaring peaks of the Trinity Alps Wilderness to the turquoise pools of the Smith Wild & Scenic River, this region is home to some of the world’s most stunning landscapes.
Visitors from around the globe come to fish the mountain streams, hunt for deer in the oak woodlands, run the river rapids, hike the backcountry trails and find solitude in primeval redwood groves – all of which benefit the local economy. These mountains and rivers are also home to thousands of different plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.
In 2019, Representative Jared Huffman and Senator Kamala Harris introduced the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act that would protect local wild lands, expand recreational opportunities, improve fire management, and restore impacted watersheds. This effort benefits the region’s public lands, local communities, and the millions of visitors who come to experience outdoor recreation in Northwest California.
The current proposal includes the expansion of existing wilderness areas such as the Trinity Alps, Yolla Bolly, Siskiyou, North Fork Eel, Yuki, Sanhedrin, South Fork Eel, Mount Lassic, and Chanchelulla. It also would designate new Wilderness Areas such as Chinquapin, Pattison, Mad River Buttes, South Fork Trinity River, Underwood, Black Butte River and English Ridge. Together these wilderness additions total approximately 262,119 acres. These old growth forests, crystalline waters, hiking trails, and unique areas need to be protected with the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964, the strongest level of protection available for public land under American law; this will ensure their ecological and community benefits are preserved in perpetuity for future generations.
Wild & Scenic Rivers
480 miles of proposed wild and scenic rivers are included in the current legislation. These key streams include parts of Redwood Creek, Canyon Creek, Upper Middle Eel & Balm of Gilead Creek, South Fork Trinity River, and Little South Fork Elk-Salmon Creek rivers among dozens of others that all contribute to regional the region’s world renowned salmon and steelhead habitat and water quality. All of these important streams and rivers need to be protected from dam construction and other threats with the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Forest Restoration, Fire Management and Trespass Remediation
Past forest management has left many publicly managed forests and rivers in dire need of restoration. This proposal aims to establish the 729,000-acre South Fork Trinity River Restoration Area to restore the forests, habitat, and fisheries in this significant watershed. The proposal will also help restore fire-resilient forests in wilderness areas and clean up public lands that have been damaged by illegal trespass activity such as marijuana grows.
CalWild and our partners are committed to supporting and expanding this key part of the regional economy of Northwest California. Rep. Huffman’s bill includes the development of a regional trails plan, development of specific recreation areas, and strategies for additional marketing and promotion of this important aspect of the regions recreation-based economy. The bill will also fund a feasibility study for The Bigfoot National Recreation Trail, a purpose-built trail that navigates through some of the most biodiverse areas within the region.
The CalWild Game Plan
We launched the Northwest California’s Mountains and Rivers Campaign to:
- ground-truth and map potential wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers
- engage local supporters and stakeholders including business owners, community leaders, ranchers, and recreationists to craft community driven protection proposals and identify important restoration opportunities; and
- work with local communities to build support for future legislation.
CalWild and our allies are working to:
- Expand existing wilderness areas in the region like the Trinity Alps, Yolla Bolly, Siskiyou, North Fork Eel, Yuki, Sanhedrin, South Fork Eel, Mount Lassic, and Chanchelulla;
- Protect new wilderness areas such as Chinquapin, Pattison, Mad River Buttes, South Fork Trinity River, Underwood, Black Butte River, and English Ridge;
- Preserve key streams as wild and scenic rivers, including parts of the Redwood Creek, Canyon Creek, Upper Middle Eel & Balm of Gilead Creek, South Fork Trinity River, and Little South Fork Elk-Salmon Creek rivers among dozens of others; and
- Promote the restoration of damaged public lands, such as heavily-logged areas, places that are laced with failing logging roads, or lands that have been polluted by illegal marijuana cultivation in order to protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat, create jobs, improve water quality and reduce fire danger.