The Winchuck is the southernmost river on Oregon's coast, one of many important salmon streams that tumble out of the Siskiyou mountains. The Winchuck is also home to most of Oregon's last remaining ancient redwood forests. Though small by Oregon standards, the Winchuck's 71-square-mile watershed is an important coastal fishery, with healthy runs of steelhead, sea-run cutthroat trout, chinook and coho salmon.
In 2005, the U.S. Forest Service came to Western Rivers Conservancy looking for help with a high-priority acquisition on the East Fork Winchuck River: a 43-acre property with critical habitat for marbled murrelets and spotted owls. WRC has conserved this stretch of the Winchuck and conveyed the property to be part of the surrounding Siskiyou National Forest. The land is adjacent to the historic Ludlum House, a WWII-era cabin offering overnight stays, access to wooded hiking trails and wildlife viewing.
The property boasts old growth stands of coast redwood and Douglas fir, key wetland habitat and the lower reach of an important tributary, Wheeler Creek. Chinook and steelhead favor the property's mile-long stretch of the East Fork Winchuck River for spawning. Other wildlife that rely on this property for habitat include northern river otter, osprey, bald eagle, Del Norte's salamander, yellow-legged frog and four sensitive bat species. WRC has conveyed the land to the U.S. Forest Service, which is committed to preserving this beautiful example of an intact forest.
Critical support for the Winchuck River has been provided by the Kendeda Fund.
Photo credits: Josh Kling