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Retaining Wildlands

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caves meadowThe Vast Wildlands of the West

The Klamath-Siskiyou region is home to the largest expanse of wildlands on the West Coast. Some of these pristine wild areas are protected under the Wilderness Act as Wilderness Areas or through short-term administrative designations, but many other wilderness-quality lands are waiting to be protected and face a variety threats.

These wild areas provide a network of high quality habitat for thousands of species. The Klamath-Siskiyou wildlands also provide spectacular recreation opportunities for over a dozen nearby communities. Every year, tens of thousands of visitors come to southern Oregon and northern California to experience this treasure trove of craggy peaks, wild rivers and ancient forests.

A visit to these wildlands is a visit to a land of extremes, where climate, geology and elevation vary widely across short distances. The rugged jumble of mountains that define this region are some of the oldest in North America. This diverse landscape contributes to the biological richness of the Klamath-Siskiyou that rivals any region on Earth. 

The biological richness of the Klamath-Siskiyou rivals any region on Earth. 


These mountains are made of granite rocks that are hundreds of millions of years old, many of which are derived from ancient seafloor. Added to this is a mix of large landmasses that were formed under intense pressure in the earth’s interior, producing serpentine and peridotite. Often referred to as the “Redrock Rainforest,” these serpentine areas are rich in rare plants like the insect-eating cobra lily and rare orchids. These rare plants evolved to thrive in these harsh soils that are toxic to other plant life.  

The past tells us so much about what makes these Klamath-Siskiyou wildlands special. Over geologic time, the Klamath-Siskiyou region escaped glaciation and served as a refuge for many species that were driven by glaciers out of other areas in the west. Today, the extraordinary numbers of species, many of which live here but nowhere else on the planet, offers insight to the importance of this region in past climatic shifts. It also tells us that the Klamath-Siskiyou wildlands will be an important refuge for wild nature in the current climate change event.  

In addition to their pristine wild areas, the Klamath-Siskiyous have great potential for wildlands recovery. Especially important are degraded landscapes between large wild areas. Wildlife species, like black bears, Mountain lions and the elusive Pacific fisher are free to roam in these connected networks of wild areas. Protecting and maintaining a healthy and robust wildland network in the Klamath-Siskiyous is critical to the survivability of countless species and ecosystems. 

kids-on-trail.gifOur Work for Wildlands

KS Wild works to protect and recover these world-class wildlands in a variety of ways. We work on national policies that protect roadless wildlands on public lands. We partner with recreation and tourism interests that benefit from these wild areas to make the case that wildlands protection is good for both local economies and the environment. Removing the threats to these areas by engaging in the lands management has been critical in protecting the Klamath-Siskiyou wildlands from threats such as mining, off road vehicles, logging and road construction

The wildlands of the Klamath-Siskiyou are largely in and around existing designated wilderness areas in the region.

  • Kalmiopsis, Wild Rogue and Copper Salmon Wilderness 
  • Siskiyou Wild Rivers 
  • Red Buttes Wilderness                                              
  • Siskiyou Crest Wildlands
  • Russian, Marble Mountain and Castle Crags Wilderness 
  • Greater Marble and Salmon River Wildlands
  • Siskiyou Wilderness                                                  
  • Dillon, Clear and Blue Creek Wildlands
  • Trinity Alps Wilderness, Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness              
  • Greater Trinity Wildlands