The Treasures of the NCIP

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Arcata and Redding Field Offices are tasked with caring for about 400,000 acres (roughly 625 square-miles) of federal public land in Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, Siskiyou, Shasta, Butte, and Tehama counties on behalf of the American people. The BLM is currently seeking public input on how these lands should be managed over the next decade or more—including in the first years of the new Trump administration. If you care about how the BLM’s holdings in these counties are managed, this is your opportunity to make your voice heard!

All BLM lands are managed according to documents called Resource Management Plans (RMPs). The Arcata and Redding Field Offices’ existing RMPs are more than 20 years old and must be updated. The BLM is calling this revision process the “Northwest California Integrated Resource Management Plan” or NCIP. BLM must address many issues in the updated RMP, including how they will:

  • protect “lands with wilderness characteristics” (the BLM term for the wildest and least developed tracts of land);
  • identify streams and rivers as possible “wild and scenic rivers” (these are streams that should be protected from future dam construction and development);
  • protect sources of clean water and important habitats for wildlife;
  • plan for recreational opportunities for locals and visitors; and
  • conserve cultural and historic sites important to Native American tribes and others.

Submit your comments by February 3rd, 2017. Below is more information about areas covered by this plan:

Special places managed by the BLM Arcata and Redding field offices

The most well-known BLM lands in northwestern California are the King Range National Conservation Area in Humboldt and Mendocino counties and the Headwaters Forest Reserve in Humboldt. Since both of these special places have recently completed RMPs, they will not be covered by the NCIP. So, what kinds of places will be affected by the plan?

Sacramento River’s Iron Canyon

Sacramento River Bend Area/ACEC – In Tehama and Shasta Counties, just north of Red Bluff, visitors can experience what California’s Central Valley once looked like before it was developed for agriculture and cities. In this 19,000-acre area, the Sacramento River meanders through a dramatic volcanic rim-rock canyon. Segments of the river and its two tributaries – Battle and Paynes Creeks – support threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead and were identified by the BLM as eligible for Wild & Scenic River protection. Adjacent wetlands attract migrating sandhill cranes and other waterfowl and riverside trees provide nesting sites for bald eagle and osprey. Hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers enjoy the trails throughout the area and the river itself provides outstanding boating and fishing opportunities. The area’s spring wildflower display is spectacular and visitors enjoy views of Mt. Lassen, the Trinity Alps, and the Coast Range.

Butte Creek – Located in Butte County east of Chico, Butte Creek is perhaps best known as one of the last remaining strongholds for the Central Valley’s threatened spring run Chinook salmon. More than 2,000 acres of BLM lands along the creek provide outstanding hiking, camping, whitewater boating, and swimming opportunities. Most of the area is managed as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and the upper segment of the creek is an eligible Wild & Scenic River. This eligibility determination should be extended downstream to include the lower segment which provides important salmon habitat. BLM lands also include the historic sites of Forks of Butte, Helltown, Centerville, and other former mining communities.

Beegum Gorge – Located in Tehama County, Beegum Creek cuts its way through a deep and spectacular gorge that is accessible from Highway 36 west of Red Bluff. The nearly 5,000-acre area lands include oak woodlands, grasslands and chaparral, and are home to osprey and bald eagles. Threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead migrate up the creek to spawn. Locals and others visit the area for its swimming, fishing, cross-country hiking and camping opportunities. The creek is eligible for Wild & Scenic protection and its rugged gorge is mostly roadless with outstanding wilderness characteristics. The area is adjacent to the Yolla Bolly Wilderness and includes the 640-acre Yolla Bolly Wilderness Study Area.

Clear Creek Greenway – More than 5,000 acres of BLM public lands make up the Clear Creek Greenway, southwest of Redding in Shasta County. Twenty years ago, much of the area was originally slated for disposal, but public concern and the need for local recreational opportunities convinced the BLM to permanently establish and manage the Greenway. The area now provides an extensive trail system and is currently one of the most heavily used hiking and mountain biking areas in northern California. The creek also provides outstanding whitewater boating opportunities. Removal of a defunct and dangerous diversion dam has restored the creek to threatened spring run Chinook salmon.

Horseshoe Ranch picture with big & old junipers at Juniper Camp

Horseshoe Ranch-Jenny Creek – BLM manages the 17,000-acre Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area in Siskiyou County in cooperation with the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. The area is located east of Interstate 5 and is adjacent to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon. These public lands provide important forage habitat for deer and elk and at least one rare plant. Streams in the area, along with Jenny Creek further east, support the rare redband trout. Jenny Creek was identified by the BLM as an eligible Wild & Scenic River due to its outstanding fishery and hydrological values. The area includes lands with wilderness characteristics and these values should be protected by the BLM as a potential addition to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Trinity River/Grass Valley Creek/Weaverville Community Forest – The BLM is a primary manager of nearly 21 miles of the Trinity Wild & Scenic River. Located in Trinity County, the river is popular for fishing, boating, swimming and other activities and is among the county’s most important natural assets. Anglers, boaters, and campers who visit the river generate millions of dollars of economic activity annually. These waters are home to bald eagles, osprey, river otters, beavers, and migratory birds and efforts are underway to restore the river’s once-legendary salmon and steelhead runs. The historic mining town site of Helena, located on the North Fork Trinity just upstream of its confluence with the main river, demonstrates the area’s deep connection to Gold Rush. Uphill from the river corridor is the newly established Weaverville Community Forest, which includes 3,000 acres of BLM public lands. A cooperative project of the BLM and the Trinity County Resource Conservation District, the Community Forest is managed to provide wildfire safety to the community of Weaverville, as well as an extensive network of non-motorized recreational trails. Formerly owned by a private logging company, Grass Valley Creek is a major source of fish-destroying sediment into the Trinity River. BLM acquired this area to restore the watershed and future management should continue to focus on protection and restoration.

Lacks Creek – Located in Humboldt County upstream of Redwood National Park, most of this 9,200-acre area was acquired by the BLM in 2004. Heavily logged by private timber companies prior to its acquisition, the Lacks Creek area has been the focus of intensive restoration efforts by the BLM. What’s left of the area’s old growth Douglas fir forest supports the threatened northern spotted owl and is managed by the BLM as an ACEC and Research Natural Area. The extensive system of former logging roads in the area is now popular with mountain bikers, hikers, and hunters. Public use of this trail is expected to increase significantly in the next decade. The creek was identified by the BLM as an eligible Wild and Scenic River due to its outstanding fish, wildlife, and ecological values. Salmon and steelhead migrate from the Pacific Ocean up Redwood Creek and into Lacks Creek to spawn.

Gilham Butte ACEC – Located in Humboldt County between Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the King Range National Conservation Area, Gilham Butte provides more than 2,500 acres of old growth Douglas fir forest habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl. It also provides a vital migration corridor from the interior to the coast. Unfortunately, the ecological value of the area has been degraded by illegal marijuana grows. BLM should intensify its efforts to protect the area and restore sites harmed by this activity.

Eden Creek – In a remote region of Mendocino County south of Round Valley, Eden Creek flows into Elk Creek, which is a major tributary of the Middle Eel River. This connection is hugely important, as the Middle Eel River hosts between one-third and one-half of California’s remaining summer-run steelhead trout population. Eden Creek provides critical habitat for threatened steelhead and has been identified as a key restoration target for the fishery. The creek also supports endangered raptors and possesses outstanding Native American cultural values. One of the world’s largest populations of rare Sargent cypress grows in the area’s harsh serpentine soils. The nearly 5,000 acres of public lands surrounding Eden Creek lack any significant protection, even though the area is mostly undeveloped and unroaded. This important, but nearly inaccessible, area should be managed to protect its wilderness characteristics.

English Ridge overlooking the Eel River. Photo by Lynn Ryan

English Ridge – Located in Mendocino County, English Ridge rises from its base along the main Eel River. Its forested slopes are covered with ancient Douglas firs and nearly a dozen species of native oaks, representing some of the greatest diversity of native oaks in the state. The Eel River provides the only public access to the area via kayaking, canoeing and rafting. Fish Creek and Indian Creek flow from the ridge and into river. These streams were identified by the BLM as eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers because they provide suitable habitat for salmon and steelhead and adjacent forests are home to the threatened northern spotted owl. In 2011, the Department of the Interior recognized these lands as among the “crown jewels” of wild places managed by BLM.

Willis Ridge-Tomki Creek – In Mendocino County, about 4,500 acres of BLM public land on and near Willis Ridge provide important old growth forest habitat for threatened northern spotted owl and other sensitive forest species. Tomki Creek flows through the area, providing critical habitat for salmon and steelhead. The area is an important “stepping stone” for migratory wildlife, which may range eastward from Willis Ridge to the BLM’s Eden Creek and English Ridge areas and the Mendocino National Forest.

Why these lands are important

  • These public lands are stepping stones for wildlife and are among the most untouched in the region. The surrounding areas have suffered a long history of logging, mining, road construction and other development activities. In some places, these lands are all that’s left of a watershed.
  • Tucked between National Forest lands and private property, these “wild islands” are treasures to the northern California way of life as important habitat for wildlife, the source of clean drinking water, areas of recreation and places with cultural significance to Native Americans.
  • Connecting Islands of Habitat – These islands of public lands range from approximately 30,000 acres to as little as 40 acres. But the importance of these lands is outsized. They help connect habitat for bald eagles, river otters, salmon and steelhead and many more species of wildlife.
  • Safeguarding Sources of Clean Water – The rivers and streams that originate or run through these public lands contribute to the region’s supply of water for drinking as well as what’s needed for municipal and agricultural use. Protecting these lands is an investment in the area’s water supply. These rivers and streams also provide habitat for salmon and steelhead and their conservation is critical for the region’s fisheries.
  • Experiencing the Outdoors – As the BLM updates their blueprint for the region, we have a chance to conserve sensitive public lands from development and enhance opportunities for people to experience the outdoors. These lands include places that are suitable for recreation activities like hiking, camping, mountain bike riding, horseback riding, kayaking, rafting and canoeing.
  • Recognizing Culturally and Historically Significant Lands – The public lands that will be considered during this process include places that are historically and culturally important for the region’s Native American tribes, including the Cahto, Karuk, Wintun and Yurok nations and the peoples represented by the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Input from these communities will be critical during this process.

These public lands offer a unique opportunity to experience the wild solitudes of California that range from the North Coast to the Central Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They include isolated redwood groves, oak woodlands, rivers and streams, and are home to bald eagles, salmon and steelhead, and sandhill cranes.