Salmon and Wildlife
The Rogue River is the largest producer of Pacific salmon in Oregon outside of the Columbia River with nearly 100,000 anadromous fish returning from the ocean each year. These massive salmon and steelhead runs provide the backbone for a sport and commercial fishing economy worth millions of dollars annually to the state of Oregon.
Who cares? Only, for instance as far as the rivers are concerned, a few sentimental fisherman? But even they should band together to protect so much of vanishing America for their children.
– Zane Grey
The lower Rogue River and associated tributaries provide ecologically valuable habitat for fish and other aquatic species. All five runs of Pacific salmon found in the Rogue River – fall and spring chinook, coho and summer and winter steelhead – utilize the proposed Wild & Scenic tributaries within the roadless areas for spawning, rearing and as migration. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined that the tributaries proposed for Wild & Scenic designation are among the most important areas in the entire lower and middle Rogue River for spawning and rearing for winter and summer steelhead and Coho salmon in particular.
Coho salmon, which use these tributaries, is listed as “threatened” (Southern Oregon/Northern California) under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although they are not listed under the ESA, summer steelhead that utilize the middle Rogue are in decline. About 20 species of game and non-game fish inhabit this area, including Pacific lamprey.
The Wild Rogue area is extremely important for a variety of wildlife species. A pair of peregrine falcons nest near the Rogue River and forage in the area. Habitat exists for threatened species, such as the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet and bald eagle. Mergansers, river otter, osprey, black bear, and many other species are frequently viewed using the river and surrounding environments. There are also two distinct elk herds on the southern portion of the Zane Grey. Lesser known, but ecologically important species such as the Del Norte salamander, red tree vole, and rare mollusks reside in these roadless areas and/or free-flowing streams.
Older forests and riparian habitat, along with the roadless nature of the Wild Rogue, make this area critical for populations of wide-ranging wildlife species. BLM recognizes the important contribution the Wild Rogue offers for dispersal corridors for wildlife. Moreover, BLM has deemed this area “source” habitat for the surrounding degraded landscape.