Upper South Fork Eel Basin Proposed WSRs

Fact Sheet: Upper South Fork Eel Basin Proposed WSRs

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These proposed Wild and Scenic Rivers support threatened and endangered populations of salmon and steelhead and rare plants. They also provide outstanding research opportunities of nearly pristine undeveloped watersheds.

South Fork Eel River – 12.3 miles

The South Fork Eel River supports the largest concentration of naturally reproducing anadromous fish in the region. Federal officials recently identified the river as essential for the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead. The upper portion of this segment is located on the Angelo Preserve managed for wild lands research by the University of California. Angelo Reserve access roads are open to public hiking. The lower portion flows through the existing South Fork Wilderness managed by the BLM. The river offers class IV-V whitewater boating opportunities. The river would be administered through a cooperative management agreement between the BLM and the State of California.

Elder Creek – 7 miles

This nearly pristine stream is a National Natural Landmark, Hydrologic Benchmark, and a UN-recognized Biosphere Reserve. A tributary of the South Fork Eel River, the creek is an important contributor to the South Fork’s anadromous fishery. Federal officials recently identified the creek as essential for the recovery of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. The upper creek segment is in the South Fork Wilderness managed by the BLM. The lower segment flows through UC Berkeley’s Angelo Preserve. The creek would be administered through a cooperative management agreement between the BLM and the State of California.

East Branch South Fork Eel River – 23.1 miles

The BLM found the East Branch South Fork Eel River and its Red Mountain tributaries to be eligible for Wild and Scenic protection because of their important anadromous fish habitat. Because of its water sources in the sponge-like serpentine soils of Red Mountain, extensive forest shading, swift flowing waters, and deep pools, the East Branch provides suitable conditions for salmon and steelhead even during drought. Federal officials recently identified the river as essential for the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead. Peregrine falcons nest along the river. The East Branch South Fork is proposed as a “Potential Wild & Scenic River” – to be designated once sufficient lands are acquired by the BLM to make a manageable addition to the system.

Cedar Creek – 9.6 miles

Cedar Creek flows from the serpentine barrens of Red Mountain. The creek was found eligible for Wild and Scenic River protection by the BLM due to its high quality anadromous fish habitat, old growth forests, spotted owl nesting sites, and rare plants found on serpentine soils. Cedar Creek acts as a crucial wildlife corridor between the South Fork Eel and its East Branch.

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Quick Facts

  • Management Agency: Bureau of Land Management ~ BLM Arcata Field Office; University of California ~ Angelo Coast Range Reserve
  • Location: Mendocino County; CA 2nd Congressional District
  • Watershed: South Fork Eel River
  • Size: South Fork Eel River—12.3; Elder Creek—7; East Branch South Fork Eel River—23.1; Cedar Creek—9.6
  • Recreational Uses: Hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, hunting, non-motorized boating
  • Ecological Values: Critical cold water refuge for salmon and steelhead, National Natural Landmark, Hydrologic Benchmark, and a UN-recognized Biosphere Reserve.