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Siskiyou Wild Rivers: Wilderness and Wildlands

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Kalmiopsis kayakers

Within the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area there are over 285,000 acres of inventoried roadless areas, creating the largest remaining complex of unprotected wilderness from Canada to Baja California on the Pacific coast. This area is a refuge for thousands of species of plants and animals – a landscape of forested peaks, roadless wildlands, and pristine mountain rivers. Within the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area, there are already six designated wilderness areas: the Kalmiopsis, Wild Rogue, Grassy Knob, Red Buttes, Copper-Salmon and Siskiyou. Although the amount of current Wilderness in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area is impressive, it’s a fraction of the area that should receive these designations.


Oregon also falls woefully short in the amount of Wilderness areas protected within the state. Oregon protects just 3.7% of its public lands as Wilderness, compared with Washington (10%) and California (14.4%). Oregon Governor Kitzhaber recommended that another 413,255 acres in the state receive Wilderness protection. About 300,000 acres of this would be in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area, including: expanding the Wild Rogue Wilderness by 58,340 acres, and adding nearly 250,000 acres to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.


  • The 179,850 acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness includes the headwaters of the Chetco and North Fork Smith Rivers, as well as a portion of the Illinois River canyon. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness is renowned for its botanical diversity.
  • The Wild & Scenic Rogue River runs through the middle of the 35,818 acre Wild Rogue Wilderness. Hiking, whitewater rafting and salmon & steelhead fishing are all popular activities in the Wild Rogue Wilderness.
  • At 17,200 acres, the Grassy Knob Wilderness is relatively small, but it protects some incredibly valuable habitat - pristine spawning grounds for salmon, old-growth Port Orford cedar and dense westside rainforest. The area averages 130 inches of rain annually.
  • Approximately 3,400 acres of the Red Buttes Wilderness lie within the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area. The Red Buttes are named for the reddish peridotite soils that dominate the region’s geology.
  • The Siskiyou Wilderness contains the headwaters of the East Fork of the Wild & Scenic Illinois River. Roughly 5,000 acres of the Siskiyou Wilderness are in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area.
  • Designated in 2009, the 13,700 acre Copper Salmon Wilderness is adjacent to the Grassy Knob Wilderness. The area contains one of the nation's largest remaining stands of low-elevation old-growth forest and one of the healthiest salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout runs in the continental United States along the north Fork of the Elk River, as well as stands of vulnerable Port Orford cedar and endangered marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls.

Expanding the Wild Rogue Wilderness

Over the last five years, we have been working with local businesses, conservationists, fishermen, rafters and community members to expand the Wild Rogue River Wilderness. An area that is currently unprotected and thus vulnerable to logging, mining and roadbuilding. A bill was introduced in both the US House and Senate

Nov. 2011, Reps. DeFazio, Schrader, and Blumenauer introduced a bill to expand the Wild Rogue Wilderness by nearly 60,000 acres (H.B. 3436). In December of 2011, Senators Wyden and Merkley introduced companion legislation (S. 2001).

On March 8, 2012, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee held a hearing on the house bill. On March 22, the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests will also hold a hearing. [Learn more about the campaign at the Wild Rogue Alliance website.]

Siskiyou Wilderness