Oregon

Chetco River

Ensuring the safety of a pristine Wild and Scenic River

With its headwaters in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, the Chetco River is one of Oregon's most outstanding streams. It is renowned for its runs of salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout, which include wild populations of fall chinook, coho salmon and winter steelhead. Working in partnership with the Siskiyou Project, Western Rivers Conservancy prevented destructive placer mining on the Chetco by purchasing over 2,000 acres of mining claims along this treasured stream.
With its headwaters in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, the Chetco River is one of Oregon's most outstanding streams. It is renowned for its runs of salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout, which include wild populations of fall chinook, coho salmon and winter steelhead. Working in partnership with the Siskiyou Project, Western Rivers Conservancy prevented destructive placer mining on the Chetco by purchasing over 2,000 acres of mining claims along this treasured stream.
Photography | Zach Collier, NW Rafting Company
The Chetco is a National Wild and Scenic River, famous for its crystal-clear water. It has some of the highest salmonid returns of any coastal stream in Oregon.
The Chetco is a National Wild and Scenic River, famous for its crystal-clear water. It has some of the highest salmonid returns of any coastal stream in Oregon.
Photography | Zach Collier, NW Rafting Company
Proposed mining along the upper reaches of the Chetco would have disturbed riverbanks, silted the water and dramatically increased the likelihood of massive slope failure. This would have been disastrous for the Chetco and its fish and wildlife.
Proposed mining along the upper reaches of the Chetco would have disturbed riverbanks, silted the water and dramatically increased the likelihood of massive slope failure. This would have been disastrous for the Chetco and its fish and wildlife.
Photography | Zach Collier/NW Rafting Company
A person kayaking on Chetco river
Chetco River, Oregon
Photography | Zach Collier/NW Rafting Company
After working tirelessly for a decade, Western Rivers Conservancy was able to purchase and convey the mining rights along the upper Chetco to the U.S. Forest Service for permanent conservation. The lands are now part of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and receive the highest conservation protection under the law.
After working tirelessly for a decade, Western Rivers Conservancy was able to purchase and convey the mining rights along the upper Chetco to the U.S. Forest Service for permanent conservation. The lands are now part of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and receive the highest conservation protection under the law.
Photography | Zach Collier/NW Rafting Company
A kayaker on Oregon's Chetco River.
A kayaker on Oregon's Chetco River.
Photography | Zach Collier, NW Rafting Company

After a ten-year effort, Western Rivers Conservancy saved the Chetco River in the heart of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area from massive gold mining. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, one of the largest remaining wildlands on the Pacific Coast and a landscape of international importance, is in the Siskiyou National Forest in the Klamath Mountains of southwestern Oregon. The Chetco National Wild & Scenic River is a world-class salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout stream, including wild populations a fall chinook and coho salmon, with its headwaters in the Kalmiopsis. The Chetco has some of the highest salmonid returns of any coastal stream in Oregon.

Unbelievably, the Chetco River with all its amazing attributes was threatened by destructive placer mining. Mining claims totaling 2,115 acres extended along nine miles of the Chetco's headwaters. Sixteen miles of road had been carved into the Wilderness Area to access the claims. The proposed mining would have disturbed the riverbanks, silted the water, and dramatically increased the chance of massive slope failure. Western Rivers Conservancy worked tirelessly for a decade to secure funds for the U.S. Forest Service to purchase the claims.

With the help of the Siskiyou Project, Western Rivers Conservancy persevered over years of negotiations with the claim holder, the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon's U.S. Senators. The U.S. Forest Service now possesses the patented claim, and Western Rivers Conservancy was successful in persuading the claim holder to relinquish the remaining claims. Most importantly, the clear, blue waters of the Chetco will remain a truly wild and scenic river.

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