California

Goose Creek

Headwaters for California's finest salmon stream
In the rugged backcountry of California's North Coast, WRC protected nearly all of Goose Creek, the most important source of cold water for the legendary Smith River. The Smith is the state's last major undammed river, famous for its salmon, steelhead and clean, emerald waters. Here, Goose Creek flows into the Smith upstream of the angler on river left.
In the rugged backcountry of California's North Coast, WRC protected nearly all of Goose Creek, the most important source of cold water for the legendary Smith River. The Smith is the state's last major undammed river, famous for its salmon, steelhead and clean, emerald waters. Here, Goose Creek flows into the Smith upstream of the angler on river left.
Photography | Ken Morrish
Goose Creek
In 2006, WRC purchased 9,501 acres of land from Green Diamond Resource Company, allowing it to incorporate nearly every inch of the Goose Creek watershed into the surrounding Smith River National Recreation Area.
Photography | Rick Hiser
Along with salmon and steelhead, sea-run cutthroat trout thrive in the Smith River.
Along with salmon and steelhead, sea-run cutthroat trout thrive in the Smith River.
Goose Creek
As one of the healthiest salmon and steelhead streams in California, the Smith River is critical to the survival of these imperiled fish. By protecting Goose Creek, WRC is able to help ensure the Smith remains cold and clean, even during time of low flow and increasingly hot summers
Photography | Rick Hiser
Goose Creek
Typical of the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion, the riparian areas and surrounding forests of Goose Creek are rich in plant and animal life. The watershed supports black bear and mountain lion, along with rare animals like wolverine, northern spotted owl, Del Norte salamander and tailed frog. Chinook steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout all inhabit the lower reaches of Goose Creek
Photography | Rick Hiser

One of Western Rivers Conservancy's top priorities is the Smith River on California's northern coast, which is considered to be the finest river ecosystem in the state. California's last major undammed river, the Smith's clear, cold waters flow through redwood and Douglas fir forests, supporting the state's healthiest wild runs of chinook salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. Beginning in 2005, Western Rivers Conservancy worked for three years to protect the Smith's largest tributary, Goose Creek, which supplies the South Fork Smith with cold, clean water even in times of drought. In one of WRC's largest acquisitions, we purchased 9,500 acres from Green Diamond Resource Company, conserving 13 miles of river frontage and the vast majority of the Goose Creek watershed.

Goose Creek is now permanently preserved and managed as part of the Smith River National Recreation Area. Western Rivers Conservancy acquired the land over several years at a cost of $6 million. In November 2005, WRC purchased and conveyed 3,518 acres - over one-third of the project lands. In 2006, we purchased the remainder of the project area. Then in February 2008, we brought the project to completion when we conveyed the final 4,836 acres to the NRA. In partnership with the Smith River Alliance and California Trout, WRC secured $3.1 million in appropriations from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for Goose Creek in FY05 and FY06. The Forest Service used this and other funding sources to acquire the lands from WRC. Western Rivers Conservancy also donated 17 acres of the project area to Del Norte County for use as public open space.

Goose Creek remains a haven, not only for wild salmon and steelhead but also for native trout and other imperiled aquatic species. Protection of the Goose Creek watershed helped secure the future of California's finest wild river ecosystem.

Our work on Goose Creek was funded by grants from the Compton Foundation, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, Heller Charitable and Educational Fund, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Page Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, Weeden Foundation and Wildlife Forever (MN).

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