The Siuslaw National Forest is a beautiful area of forested mountains located in Oregon's Coast Range. The headwaters of numerous streams accumulate here before tumbling down toward the Pacific Ocean. Historically, the streams that drain Oregon's mid-coastal mountains contained very strong populations of salmon and steelhead. Decades of logging forested slopes and clearing river bottoms for pastureland have degraded the once robust runs of salmon and steelhead. Oregon coastal coho salmon have been federally listed as "Threatened," and both the winter steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout are federal "Candidates."
Despite the declining salmon and steelhead runs in Oregon's coastal rivers, some streams in the Siuslaw basin continue to maintain viable populations. In partnership with the Siuslaw National Forest and private landowners, Western Rivers Conservancy conserved one of the best reaches of currently strong salmon and steelhead streams remaining in the Siuslaw National Forest's Watershed Restoration Demonstration Area: Fivemile/Bell Creeks.
In 2002, Western Rivers Conservancy purchased 600-acres of high-quality salmon habitat along Fivemile and Bell Creek. These creeks produce the highest density of spawning coho salmon of any streams on the entire Oregon Coast. They also contain runs of winter steelhead and sea-run and resident cutthroat trout. Fivemile and Bell Creeks drain into Lake Tahkenitch, where the lake is a natural buffer from pasture development and provides good coho rearing habitat.
Photo credits: Josh Kling, Barrie Kovish
Jan 24, 2019
One of my responsibilities as Western Rivers Conservancy’s Stewardship Director is to visit past projects to assess how they’re holding up as a conservation project. This October, I had the opportunity to visit Fivemile and Bell Creeks, where one of WRC’s accomplishments has come full circle.
The Five Mile Bell property is a beautiful mountain valley in the western foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range. The valley and the pleasant stream are easily accessible and available for hiking, fishing, bird watching, etc. Over the next few years, restoration activities involving stream improvement and timber stand improvement will be occurring, so recreational users should keep that in mind when visiting the property.
The Five Mile and Bell Creeks property lies about 10 miles southeast of Florence, Oregon, in the western foothills of the Coast Range. It is accessible by vehicle via a network of county roads either from the north or the south. A U.S. Forest Service gate at the entrance limits access to foot or bicycle travel. Click on our logo icon below for directions from your location.
The property is managed by the Forest Service Ranger District in Florence, Oregon, which is within the Siuslaw National Forest. For more information, call 541-902-8526 or visit USDA Forest Service.