A wilderness of rivers
While named after one of the rarest plants on the planet, first and foremost the Kalmiopsis is a wilderness of rivers with some of the cleanest water in the nation. Flowing through the congressionally protected Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the unprotected North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas are the National Wild and Scenic Illinois, Chetco and North Fork Smith rivers,
Five U.S. Forest Service Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers—Baldface Creek, Rough and Ready Creek, Josephine/Canyon Creeks, Silver Creek and Indigo Creek—are waiting for congressional action. Three are in the South Kalmiopsis and two in the North Kalmiopsis.
The clarity of these nationally outstanding rivers, and yet-to-be-protected tributary creeks, is legendary. Their native salmon and steelhead runs are world-class. Their scenic and recreation values outstanding. They are the Kalmiopsis and it is them.
The evidence of things not seen
Pronounced Kal-me-opsis, this rugged wilderness lies a little inland from the Pacific Ocean and the spectacular Wild Rivers Coast in a remote corner of Oregon and California. It’s a wild tangle of steep knife-edged ridges, craggy peaks, ancient rounded plateaus and deep boulder-strewn canyons through which hauntingly beautiful rivers and creeks flow.
The area’s unique desert-like serpentine terrain is home to wetlands of rare and insectivorous plants, lilies and orchids. Known locally as Darlingtonia fens, these groundwater dependent ecosystems—one of the North America’s rarest habitats types— occupy streams banks or anywhere springs emerge from some mysterious source deep in the Earth. They can be found on cliffs above a river, mid-slope, or high on a remnant of the Klamath Peneplain.
This often strange and other-worldly approximately half million acres of the Siskiyou and Six Rivers National Forests that we call the Kalmiopsis bears the imprint of epic geologic forces, abundant precipitation, and fire. A complex and little understood hydrologic regime helps nourish its creeks and rivers.
The union of these foundational elements has resulted in a one-of-a-kind river-rich wild land of exceptional scientific, social and ecological value, most of which we are just beginning to understand.
The Kalmiopsis is an ancient landscape and how it all works remains a mystery as deep as the canyons its rivers flow through. What we do know is that its wild rivers and pristine creeks have maintained a level of integrity that’s increasingly rare.
We also know that a river is a reflection of its watershed. So while how this often harsh and unconventional place can be home to such beautiful rivers—with such clean clear water and sustainable native salmon and steelhead runs—may remain a mystery, that it is cannot be denied.
Here’s just one example: In 2017, the State of Oregon named the North Fork Smith River, its tributaries and associated wetlands Outstanding Resource Waters under the Clean Water Act. The designation is reserved for the highest quality waters in the nation. Eighty-eight percent of North Fork Smith’s watershed is within the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the adjacent South Kalmiopsis and Packsaddle Roadless Areas. The North Fork Smith Outstanding Resource Waters designation was a first for Oregon and for the Pacific Northwest.
Context | stories told by maps, old and new
Many years ago before the age of the internet and Google Earth, a good friend of the Kalmiopsis would begin his pitch to editorial boards, decision makers, or anyone who would listen, by taking out a well worn map depicting the National Forests, Roadless Areas and congressionally protected Wilderness Areas of the West.
He would then point to the Kalmiopsis and the Siskiyou National Forest. They stood out like neon as the only large undeveloped area of federal public lands remaining along the Pacific Coast, south of the Olympics.
Today, we we can tell the same story using Google Earth—albeit not quite so eloquently. There is simply no place like this extreme corner of Southwest Oregon and Northwest California—from the Elk River in the north to the Smith River in the south—where it’s as possible to preserve clean water for communities, wild rivers for the future and irreplaceable native runs of salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout for local economies. And the Kalmiopsis and its rivers are at the heart of this most amazing place.
The new map
The above map was created using Google Earth and helps put the Kalmiopsis region in context. It shows an expansive, highly dissected, geologically unique wild area (some congressionally protected and some not) lying between the Pacific Ocean and the inland valleys of the Rogue and Illinois rivers. It also shows the complex system of rivers and creeks that capture the abundant precipitation, which falls mainly in the late-fall, winter and spring. Click on the map above or here for a larger image.
This key will help to read the map:
- The congressionally protected Kalmiopsis Wilderness is outlined in light green.
- Adjacent to the Wilderness are about 150,000 to 180,000 acres of the unprotected North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas (not delineated on the map).
- The congressionally protected corridors of the Wild & Scenic Scenic Illinois, Chetco and North Fork Smith Rivers are outlined in white.
- The boundaries of the Siskiyou National Forest are in thin darker green lines.
- The unmistakeable shape of the stark expanse of serpentine terrain that makes the Kalmiopsis and its rivers so unique is plainly visible in this birds eye view from space, No it’s NOT the Biscuit fire scar. The 2002 fire merely emphasized what already existed. The Kalmiopsis serpentine is a major feature of the Josephine ophiolite. It extends well into California in the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith watershed and the Smith River National Recreation Area. Its most dramatic expression is in the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area and the headwaters of the Wild and Scenic Chetco and North Fork Smith Rivers in the Wilderness.
- Also shown, but not marked on the map, are five U.S. Forest Service Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers—Baldface Creek (tributary of the North Fork Smith), Rough and Ready Creek, Josephine/Canyon creeks and Silver and Indigo creeks (all tributaries of the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River). Their watersheds are mostly within the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless areas.
You can see that the National Forest lands, outside the Wilderness and Roadless Areas, impacted by the unsustainable logging of the 1970s and 80s, are slowly healing under the direction of the Northwest Forest Plan and its Aquatic Conservation Strategy. The unfragmented green of the federal public lands contrasts with the scarred crazy quilt patchiness of the oft logged private industrial forests around them.
The Wild River Coast—Oregon and California— is home to a one-of-a-kind collection of undammned rivers, with a high percentage of congressionally protected Wilderness and other National Forest and BLM lands in their watersheds. And while no one can predict the future—made even more uncertain by a rapidly changing climate—it may just be that this lean, rugged, relatively low elevation mountainous region, so often in the immediate path of wet Pacific storms, may be one of the last best hopes of preserving native runs of salmon and steelhead into the future and clean drinking water for its communities. However, its conservation is far from complete.
The Kalmiopsis Wilderness | a refuge for rivers
The Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundaries were drawn to exclude land with timber value. Inside the Wilderness the terrain is land too steep and rugged for roads, with soil too rocky and skeletal to produce the fiber plantations desired by the timber industry. It is not without big trees and some closed canopy forest but the jumble of soil types and the area’s high surface rock content means that once logged, the land could not be reforested even if you could figure out how to get the trees out. The forests of the Kalmiopsis have little or no economic value in the conventional sense and that’s why its Wilderness. But unroaded and unlogged it’s become a refuge for rivers and wild creeks like no other.
Endangered | looking back
There was a reason they called it the Endangered American Wilderness Act. Back then it was U.S. Forest Service’s practice to drive roads as far as they could into potential Wilderness, put a timber sale at the end of the road and log their way back, disqualifying the area for future protection.
One such road on the Siskiyou National Forest was was carved out of the South Kalmiopsis. The disastrous timber sale at its end, in the headwaters of Rough and Ready Creek, looted a pocket of rare old forest of western hemlock, Port Orford cedar, Pacific yew, sugar pine and Douglas fir, with an understory of Saddler’s oak and rhododendron, It was clearcut over the objections of scientists.
Scientists, worried that a unique and unstudied botanical curiosity would be wiped out, persuaded the Forest Service to alter the sale layout slightly, to preserve some of the fascinating borderline between vegetations of diorite and peridotite. But they could not be persuaded to drop the sale...
From – Hiking the Bigfoot Country: The Wildlands of Northern California and Southern Oregon, the classic trail guide to the Kalmiopsis Wildlands by John Hart.
History shows us what we have yet to do
Click here to read this Oregon Wildlands Project newsletter—about Rep. Jim Weaver’s efforts, with the support of President Jimmy Carter, to establish a 280,000 acres Kalmiopsis Wilderness—or on the image to the right.
In the early 1970s, the Kalmiopsis Wildlands was the name John Hart used for the original 79,000 acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness plus what we now know as the North and South Kalmiopsis, Packsaddle and Squaw Mountain Roadless Areas:
The Illinois [River] Country, the Chetco [River] basin, the peridotite borderlands: together make up one of the largest blocks of wild country in Oregon. If there were nothing of interest about it but its emptiness and its size, the Kalmiopsis would still be worth protecting. But we are just beginning to understand the richness that is packed within these mostly undefended borders
Little of that richness is commercial … There is just enough timber in the north, just enough mineral potential in the south, to guarantee that the Kalmiopsis wildland will be roaded and logged and mined right down to its small protected core—unless enough people speak out,
… this is a land of most uncommon worth and charm. It it goes—if we permit its exploitation for the little does of commodities it could yield—there will never be anything quite like it, for us, again.
Decades later the struggle has not let up and people are still speaking out. John Hart and Jim Weaver’s Kalmiopsis Wildlands, includes not only the Kalmiopsis Wilderenss—as expanded in 1978—but also Oregon’s largest unprotected National Forest wilderness we know as the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas. These are the wild lands that didn’t make it into the Endangered American Wilderness Act. Yes, there have been losses along the way, but much still remains.
Rocks, rattlesnakes, rare plants and rivers
In those early days, following the ’64 Wilderness and ’78 Endangered American Wilderness acts, the Kalmiopsis, in the eyes of many in the Forest Service and public, had little to recommend it. It was considered ordinary forest with a high dose of rocks, rattlesnakes, unforgiving terrain and steep slopes beyond the angle of repose.
But that’s changing. For example, this essay about the discovery of Kalmiopsis leachiana, the ancient flowering shrub, for which the Kalmiopsis is named by Michael Kauffman – Kalmiopsis leachiana | Survivor in a land of extremes.
Kauffman provides us with one of the best short descriptions of the Kalmiopsis there is. Here’s an excerpt:
This landscape is not only sculpted by precipitation and geological character but by fire as well. The greatest fire in Oregon’s modern history swept through the southwest corner of the state in 2002. It was called the Biscuit Fire and burned nearly 500,000 acres across a landscape that receives significant rainfall but one also exposed to extreme summer heat. The porous nature of the soil compounds the drying and in the summer of 2002, after a dry winter, the forest was ripe for burn. The small amount of intact forest which survived the burn–whether it was luck or slope or a combination–is not composed of large and/or old tree specimens. This evidence suggests to me that frequent fire is a common and complex component of this ecosystem–and has been for several thousand years. This diversity is compounded by these harsh extremes–wet and dry, cold and hot, serpentines, fire or not. All of these conditions create a proliferations of microsite on which diversity thrives.
Conifer saplings are flourishing, shrubs are returning, and the Kalmiopsis leachiana–which many feared may disappear due to the fire–may be expanding its range. At a minimum it is burgeoning where there was burn. Diverse plant growth is re-establishing complex vegetation types that, to my amateur botanist eyes, were often so complex as to be confusing. In and around the Salamander Lake/Dry Butte area I saw associations I had never seen before. For instance, Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana) growing near Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and salal (Gaultheria shallon)–where coastal meets mountains.
The most confounding message sent by this diversity is that it exists because of, rather than in spite of, the harsh conditions fostered here–intuitively it would seem that the extremes would inhibit diversity. However, this is the ancient meeting ground.
Now decades after John Hart was hiking and writing about the Kalmiopsis, we are learning that in addition to its “emptiness and size” there is exceptional scientific, social and ecological richness to be found in this rugged stark landscape. There is also a growing understanding that it is not only a refuge for rare plants and exceptional diversity but for beautiful rivers, the cleanest and clearest of water and the wildest of native steelhead and cutthroat trout—and yes rattlesnakes and lots of lots of rock.
Logging Bob Marshall’s vision down to its core
You can see from the map below how much logging has occurred on the Siskiyou National Forest since Bob Marshall envisioned a vast protected wild area like that bearing his name in Idaho. The good news is that the unprotected wild lands (the North and South Kalmiopsis) adjacent to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness still have much of their integrity intact. But the struggle goes on over mining, roading and logging.
The Kalmiopsis Wilderness and Chetco River | stories yet untold
To date we only have 2017 Google Earth imagery (click here for larger view) that predates the Chetco Bar fire. In the few months since the fire cooled, a significant part of the 14,000 acres of private land within the fire’s 191,000 acre perimeter has has been logged. One source estimates this could be as many as 9,500 acres. In addition the U.S. Forest Service is proposing to log an additional 4,000 acres. Much of this is within the Chetco River’s watershed. So this snapshot of past logging is already out of date.
This key will help to read the map:
- The Kalmiopsis Wilderness is outlined in light green.
- The watershed of the Wild and Scenic Chetco River is outlined in blue.
- The red, yellow and orange polygons are timber sale areas within the Siskiyou National Forest.
- The scars of recent clearcuts on private industrial forest lands are clearly visible, however do not include the new post Chetco Bar fire logging.
While 44 percent of the Chetco River’s watershed is within the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, it remains to be seen if it will still buffer this world class salmon and steelhead river from the impacts of both fire and extensive logging that is ongoing and proposed.
More about the Kalmiopsis
Weather in a land of extremes
The Kalmiopsis in the summer can be cool and damp, shrouded in an ocean of fog with just its highest peaks showing, on one day and the next, rivaling the hot and dry of the Rogue and Illinois valleys to its east.
Hikers know the whims of its weather. As the stars brighten in the dark night sky, it can be too hot to crawl into a sleeping bag but before morning breaks a light rain will have you scrambling for shelter. There are years when the highest ridges are bare of snow in January, and its shirt-sleeve weather, and others with days of cold drenching rains in June where you don’t want to leave your tent.
Most important, hikers need to be aware that the creeks and rivers of the Kalmiopsis can rise unexpectedly, making crossings dangerous or impossible even in July. In July of 2017, it was not possible to safely cross the Chetco River, adding to safety concerns of leaving fire crews in the remote, deep canyons of the Kalmiopsis to work the fire.
Precipitation amounts vary from east to west but are generally higher that many surrounding areas. Despite the often desert-like appearances of the serpentine dominated watersheds of the North Fork Smith and Rough and Ready Creek, the Kalmiopsis can get up to 160 inches or more of precipitation annually—mostly in the form of rain.
The low peaks and ridges of the Kalmiopsis, and the mountainous watershed of the Smith River immediately to the south in the Siskiyous, appear to be moisture magnets. They often see some of the highest amounts of winter precipitation along the coast.
During the winter of 1981-82, 240 inches of rain were recorded on Gasquet Mountain, at the southern most extent of the Kalmiopsis region in California. Even during periods of sustained drenching rains and rapid rises in stream flow, the creeks and rivers of the Kalmiopsis remain relatively clear—especially when compared to the muddy runoff of streams flowing through the roaded and logged National Forest lands.
While the area’s complex and unusual geology is the dominant elemental influence, Pacific storms, summer fogs, and hot dry winds from the interior valleys all shape the ecology of the Kalmiopsis and its rivers. In turn weather, geology and terrain influence fire and its dramatic affect on this most rugged and diverse of wildlands.
The Kalmiopsis Serpentines
The geology of the Kalmiopsis is dizzyingly complex. But one soil type stands in dramatic contrast to all the rest. Dominating a vast area of the Kalmiopsis is the starkly beautiful serpentine terrain of the Josephine ophiolite—one of four serpentine-dominated areas in the Klamath-Siskiyou Region. It’s muted colors are a dramatic contrast to the deep green of surrounding mixed evergreen forests growing on more normal soil types.
Once you’ve seen a map of this geologic anomaly, it’s shape is unmistakeable—even from space (see above Google Earth image). And no it’s not the Biscuit fire scar as someone with little knowledge of the area began calling it. The 2002 Biscuit fire that burned across the Kalmiopsis simply emphasized the sparse woodlands and barrens of the serpentine soils of this geologic anomaly. It did not create it. That was done many millions of year ago as a result of colliding tectonic plates scraping the basement of the ocean floor onto the surface of the land.
The serpentine of the Josephine ophiolite is a major influence on the Kalmiopsis and its rivers and part of what makes them so unique. It exerts a strong influences vegetation, fire and the hydrologic regime of the region and is host to one of the highest concentrations of rare and endemic plants in North America.
In 2017, the serpentine terrain of the Kalmiopsis exerted a major dampening influence in the Chetco Bar fire, stopping or dramatically slowing the advance of the fire even when stoked by winds from the west which in late August drove it east. This can especially be seen at Vulcan Lake, Red Mountain, Pearsoll Peak and Chetco Pass and Whetstone Butte.
A job half done
In the half century since the passage of the first Wilderness Act, this quiet, mysterious place has more than proven its worth as watershed to some of the last best free flowing rivers on the West Coast. These rivers provide clean drinking water for downstream communities and treasured salmon and steelhead for the local economies—but it’s a job half done.
During the preamble to passage of the Endangered American Wilderness Act in 1978, President Jimmy Carter and Rep. Jim Weaver advocated for a 280,000 acre addition to the original 79,000 Kalmiopsis Wilderness designated in 1964. However, Senator Mark Hatfield cut the area down to 100,000 acres.
The Kalmiopsis, protected and unprotected, is a wild watershed of inestimable value that’s home some of this nations last best free flowing native salmon and steelhead streams but protecting the whole is a job half done.
A wilderness of rivers
Unlike most wild areas, the Kalmiopsis include many miles of pristine low gradient spawning and rearing habitat that provides a refuge for increasing rare native salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. It’s rivers—the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith, Illinois and Chetco rivers—benefit from having watersheds with a high percentage of both wilderness and federal public lands that are managed as National Forests under the Northwest Forest Plan.
The multiplier effect
Fanning out from the stark rugged nucleus of the Kalmiopsis and its large adjacent Roadless Areas are other Wilderness Areas (Grassy Knob, Copper Salmon, Wild Rogue, Siskiyou and Red Buttes). Between them are smaller Roadless Areas. Together, with surrounding National Forests lands, these Wilderness Areas anchor a collection of National Wild and Scenic Rivers and free flowing native salmon and steelhead streams that may be the West Coast’s last best hope of maintaining sustainable populations of wild salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout, south of the Olympics.
Wild watersheds make for clean drinking water
Water is life but its quality is a reflection of the land it flows through. And so there are many degrees of water quality with the best coming out of unpolluted, undeveloped wild lands.
The rivers of the Kalmiopsis and the other Wilderness Areas of the Wild Rivers Coast provide some of the cleanest clearest drinking water in the nation. In this they provide a valuable service to downstream communities in Southwest Oregon and Northwest California.
A brief history | working to preserve the greater Kalmiopsis Wildlands
Efforts to protect a vast wild area of spectacular rivers, where Oregon and California meet, began with Bob Marshall. Marshall was head of the U.S. Forest Service Recreation Management under Theodore Roosevelt from 1937 to 1939. His vision of wilderness for the region spanned a rugged wild area within the Siskiyou and Six Rivers National Forests—from the Smith River in the south to Rogue River in the north. It never came to fruition.
The Kalmiopsis wild area, lies at the core of Bob Marshal’s wilderness vision. It remains fairly intact, with the 179,850 aces congressionally protected Kalmiopsis Wilderness surrounded by about 180,000 acres of the South and North Kalmiopsis and Packsaddle Roadless Areas, along with the Rancheria Creek unroaded area.
However, the first successful effort to protect land in the Kalmiopsis began locally at Rough and Ready Creek with the ladies of the Illinois Valley Garden Club.
- 1938 – A successful campaign begun by Effie Smith and the Illinois Valley Garden Club led to the establishment of the State of Oregon’s Rough and Ready Creek Botanical Wayside. Listen to the story here. Unfortunately the State later reduced the size of the botanical area to 11 acres.
- 1946 – The U.S. Forest, under the U-2 regulations established the 78,850 acre Kalmiopsis Wild Area in the upper Chetco River watershed.
- 1961 – While the Wilderness Act was being debated in Congress and the Kalmiopsis Wild Area was administratively protected, a logging contract located several thousand acres of miming claims in the headwaters of the Chetco River and began mineral exploration In 1961, he bulldozed a road from Onion Camp to Chetco Pass and then down to Slide Creek on the Chetco River. From there he constructed a rough mining track to Taggarts Bar and beyond. The mining and unauthorized road construction was discovered by a Forest Service pilot who flew the area after it was reported that the Chetco River was running red. The Forest Service issued a special use permit to the miner requiring the maintenance of the roads to prevent erosion.
- 1964 – Congress added most of the Kalmiopsis Wild Area (76,900 acres) to the National Wilderness Preservation System in the 1964 Wilderness Act. The Kalmiopsis Wilderenss makes up 44 percent of the watershed of the upper Chetco River. However, ancient primeval forests and stark serpentine ridges in very headwaters of the Chetco River (the headwaters of Babyfoot and Slide Creeks) remain unprotected.
- 1978 – The Endangered American Wilderness added a little over 100,000 acres in two additions the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The additions included the Wild River Area of what is now the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River (designated in 1986) and the headwaters and part of the Wild River Area the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River (designated in 1988), President Jimmy Carter and Rep, Jim Weaver supported a 280,000 acre addition to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness but Senator Mark Hatfield opposed it. There have been no additions to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness since.Rough and Ready Creek Fills Bill for Wild River
- 1984 – All Wilderenss Areas designated in the 1964 Wilderness Act are finally closed to mineral entry and the location of new mining claims under the 1872 Mining Law, subject to valid existing rights. The compromise in the 1964 Wilderness Act—leaving original Wilderness Areas open to mining for 20 years—means that there are thousands of acres of federal mining claims in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and two roads where motorized vehicles are being allowed to access the claims. For all practical purposes little or no minerals are produced but cabins are occupied, several full time, as personal private retreats. It begins a long struggle between ne’er do well mining claimants, the U.S. Forest Service and conservationists.
- 1984 – Congress adds 50.5 miles of the Illinois River to the National Wild and Scenic River System, from the Forest Boundary to its confluence with the National Wild and Scenic Rogue River.
- 1988 – Congress adds 44.5 miles of the Chetco River—from its headwaters in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness to the boundary of the Siskiyou National Forest—and 13 miles of the North Fork Smith River—from its headwaters to the California border—to the National Wild and Scenic River System in the Oregon Omnibus Wild and Scenic River Act. This same year, the federal government granted an 1872 Mining Law mineral patent application for three 20-acre federal mining claims on the Little Chetco River deep in the Wilderness. The claimant paid $2.50 per acre to the acquire title to the land, thus establishing the first and only inholding in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
- 1989 – The 10-year timber sale plan for the Siskiyou National Forest includes 18 timber sales in Inventoried Roadless Areas. Many are located in the North and South Kalmiopsis.
- 1992 – The Nicore Nickel Mine is proposed in the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area at Rough and Ready Creek and an application submitted to purchase over 4,300 acres of the creek’s watershed for $2.50 per acre under the 1872 Mining Law’s patenting provision.
- 1993 to 1994 – The U.S. Forest Service completes studies finding five streams in the South and North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area eligible to become Wild and Scenic Rivers.
- 1994 – Most of the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas become Late-Successional Forest Reserves under the Northwest Forest Plan. Programmed timber sales are not allow In LSRs..
- 1999 – After almost four decades, the struggle over the old Darrell Brown mining road and proposals to develop a large scale gold mine in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness on the Wild and Scenic Chetco River at Taggart’s Bar come to an end. The U.S. Forest Service issues the Nicore Mine Record of Decision for bulk sampling to provide Nicore with time to demonstrate where and how the mined nickel laterite soils will be processed.
- 2002 – The Florence fire, which became known as the Biscuit fire, burns through most of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. It leaves a mosaic of high, moderate and low severity burned areas typical of the mixed severity fire regime of the Klamath-Siskiyou Region. Parts of the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas are logged along with forests in the headwaters of the Chetco River and the Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area. Learn more here.
- 2011 – The holder of the last three federal mining claims forfeits them by trying to avoid paying the annual maintenance fee. While the Little Chetco inholding remains, for the first time in the almost a half century since the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was established, it’s free from the intrusion and impacts of mining.
- 2017 – Fire visited the Kalmiopsis Wilderness again. Lightning ignited a small fire above the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River at Chetco Bar in the heart of some of the steepest ground in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The State of Oregon designates the North Fork Smith River, its tributaries and associated wetlands Outstanding Resource Waters under the Clean Water Act.
- Kalmiopsis leachiana | survival in a land of extremes – Conifer Country Plant Explorations by Michael Kauffmann
- The Kalmiopsis Wilderness … taking away only memories by Rene Casteran, Wilderness Ranger
- Hiking the Bigfoot Country | the wildlands of northern California and southern Oregon by John Hart.
- Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
- Chetco River Kayak Expedition (Northwest Rafting Company video)
- Chetco River Exploratory (Northwest Rafting Company)
- How to love a weird and perfect wilderness, High Country News
- Siskiyou Mountain Club’s Kalmiopsis Wilderness page with links to which trails are maintained.
- River of Dreams: Traversing the Kalmiopsis Wilderness
- Chetco River Trip Report, Sundance Kayak School
- The Cleanest Line
 USDA Forest Service, 1983, Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Gasquet Mountain Mining Project. Six Rivers National Forest.
 While serpentine environments are globally limited, they’re not unique to southwest Oregon and northwest California. However, of the western North American serpentine complexes, the largest contiguous areas of serpentine are found in our very own Klamath-Siskiyou Mountain Region. The U.S. Forest Service has the most comprehensive online information about the Klamath-Siskiyou Serpentines. It discusses the geology and the rare plant communities that inhabit these amazing landscapes.
 The U.S. Forest Service’s Roadless Area Conservation Rule provide some administrative protection for the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas. But the rule provides little or no protection from mining which is the greatest threat to the South Kalmiopsis and the Wild and Scenic Illinois and North Fork Smith River. In addition, in 2006, under the Bush administration, post fire logging occurred in both the North and South Kalmiopsis. The logging impacted the natural process of regeneration that was well underway.
 A U.S. Forest Service Eligible Wild and Scenic River is one where the managing agency has conducted a Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Assessment and the stream has been found to have one or more outstandingly remarkable values and to met the criteria to become part of the National Wild and Scenic River System as per the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act’s criteria. The USDA-USDI Interagency Guidelines (47 Fed. Reg. 39454) define an eligible river as one that qualifies for inclusion in the national system through determination that it is free-flowing and with its adjacent land area possesses at least one outstandingly remarkable value.
In 1994, the Siskiyou National Forest completed screening and analysis on a number of streams under its management. After public comment, the Forest Supervisor issues a finding as to the streams outstandingly remarkable values and highest potential classification. The Forest Service’s analysis for Josephine Creek and its tributaries was incomplete at the time. As a result they only found only Canyon Creek, a tributary of Josephine Creek “eligible.” However, since then rare plant surveys conducted between 2001 and 2003 found that Josephine Creek has the high concentration of serpentine Darlingtonia wetlands in the Klamath-Siskiyou Region, and thus the world.
There’s also new science and USFS analysis that show additional outstanding values for the Rough and Ready Creek stream system
Baldface Creek’s importance to the North Fork Smith River resulted in a finding that the mainstem creek and all its perennial tributaries were eligible to become Wild and Scenic Rivers with the highest potential classification of “Wild.”
For Silver and Indigo Creeks the agency found the mainstem creeks and all anadromous fish bearing tributaries were Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers.
 See Medford Mail Tribune – Old mining claim has big payoff: Government pays millions to protect river and wildlife.