The southern proposed additions are composed of rugged, heavily forested mid to low-elevation country that would complement the adjacent highlands of the Trinity Alps Wilderness if protected.
The Wild and Scenic New River, Canyon Creek Proposed Wild and Scenic River and other streams that flow out of the proposed additions provide cold, clear water essential for the survival of endangered steelhead trout and coho and Chinook salmon populations in the Trinity River. Large boulders and abundant small waterfalls grace many of these streams, and the fish can often be seen leaping up the rapids to spawn.
The New River watershed is well known for its purity, even during fierce rainstorms. The proposed additions are an extremely important refuge for unique and endangered species, including nine rare plants. Reminders of the area’s Gold Rush history abound in the proposed additions in the form of abandoned mines, rock piles, and ditches. As is the case in the adjacent Trinity Alps Wilderness, these disturbances are more often than not covered by vegetation, and do not in any way detract from the region’s overall wild character. Indeed, these historical features simply add to the public’s fascination with this wild, remote country. The New River offers challenging whitewater for boaters who are brave enough to negotiate its narrow gorge filled with deep troughs and house-sized boulders.
The northwestern proposed additions are dominated by 6,188-foot Orleans Mountain, a significant regional landmark that is of great cultural importance to local Native Americans. Old-growth maps of northwestern California indicate that Orleans Mountain contains one of the largest concentrations of ancient forest in the region. It is a natural extension of the peaks in the Trinity Alps to the southeast. The mountain and its flanks serve as a divide between the Klamath River and Salmon River watersheds, and provides high-quality water to both rivers and to nearby homes.