Upper Eel River Proposed WSRs

Fact Sheet: Upper Eel River Proposed WSRs

These proposed Wild and Scenic Rivers in the upper Eel River watershed provide important habitat for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, as well as wildlife dependent on old growth forests. They also provide outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Middle Eel River – 39.6 miles & tributaries: North Fork Middle Eel – 13 miles, Balm of Gilead Creek – 10.5 miles

From its source in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, the Middle Eel River flows south through rich conifer forests and oak woodlands. The river and its tributaries (North Fork Middle Eel and Balm of Gilead Creek) support one of the most important summer steelhead fisheries in California. Federal officials recently identified the streams as essential for the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead. Goshawk and spotted owl utilize the forest habitat along the river. The river provides a variety of primitive recreation opportunities, including hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, fishing, and hunting. Balm of Gilead Creek plunges over 20-foot waterfalls into deep pools perfect for swimming. The upper Middle Eel River is recommended for protection by the Forest Service.

North Fork Eel River – 14.3 miles

Federal officials recently identified the North Fork Eel River as essential for the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead. The river canyon supports diverse habitat for several sensitive, threatened, and endangered species, including Peregrine falcon. Offering class II-V whitewater boating opportunities, the river flows through the North Fork Wilderness – one of the most remote and least visited wild areas in the region. The North Fork is recommended for protection by the Forest Service.

Red Mountain Creek – 8.1 miles

Red Mountain Creek flows westward from the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness to its confluence with the North Fork Eel. The creek supports a healthy anadromous fishery in its lower segment and resident trout upstream. Federal officials recently identified the creek as essential for the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead. Adjacent cliffs also provide habitat for Peregrine falcon. The creek also possesses important contemporary, historic, and prehistoric cultural values. The diverse geology through which the creek flows supports a picturesque mosaic of conifer and oak woodlands.

Elk Creek – 11.4 miles & tributaries: Eden Creek – 2.7 miles, Deep Hole Creek – 4.3 miles

A major tributary of the Middle Eel River, Elk Creek flows from sources in the Yuki Wilderness. The creek provides critical habitat for threatened steelhead and possesses a high potential to support the recovery of this species. Two tributaries – Eden and Deep Hole Creeks – also flow from roadless areas and support threatened salmon and steelhead. These creeks also provide important habitat for northern spotted owl and peregrine falcon. Eden Creek is rich in cultural values.

Indian Creek – 3.3 miles

Draining a portion of the proposed English Ridge Wilderness, Indian Creek flows into the Eel Wild and Scenic River and provides important anadromous fish habitat. The creek flows through mixed public and private lands, which are protected through an easement held by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Fish Creek – 4.2 miles

Draining a portion of the proposed English Ridge Wilderness, Fish Creek flows into the Eel Wild and Scenic River and provides important anadromous fish habitat. Forests along the creek support endangered spotted owl. The creek flows through mixed public and private lands, which are protected through an easement held by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Quick Facts

  • Management Agency: U.S. Forest Service ~ Six Rivers National Forest, Mendocino National Forest; Bureau of Land Management ~ BLM Arcata Field Office
  • Location: Trinity and Mendocino Counties, CA; CA 2nd Congressional District
  • Watershed: Upper Eel River
  • Size: Middle Eel River—39.6; North Fork Eel River—13; Balm of Gilead Creek—10.5; North Fork Eel River—14.3; Red Mountain Creek—8.1; Elk Creek – 11.4; Eden Creek—2.7; Deep Hole Creek—4.3; Indian Creek—3.3; Fish Creek—4.2
  • Recreational Values: Camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, non-motorized boating, wildlife viewing
  • Ecological Values: Crucial habitat for salmon, steelhead, and other wildlife, diverse geology