WCS North America

Klamath River Watershed

Spanning more than 12 million acres, an area the size of the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined, the Klamath-Siskiyou eco-region of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California harbors one of the most biologically diverse temperate coniferous forests in the world. The region is world renowned, recognized as an IUCN Area of Global Botanical Significance (one of only seven in North America), and is a proposed World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The cultural history of the Klamath-Siskiyou region is as rich as its natural history. It is home to many Native American communities that are supported by extensive agriculture and grazing in the valley bottoms, and logging and mining in the mountainous forests.

Conservation Challenges

The forests of the Pacific Northwest have been extensively modified by human activity. Logging has significantly degraded and fragmented the Klamath-Siskiyou forests and today nearly 90% of mature forests over the age of 150 years have been logged. As a result, historically multi-aged, closed forests have converted to single-age, open forests that are more susceptible to larger and more severe wildfires. In addition, thousands of miles of logging roads now traverse federal and private forests. The structure of younger forests - the density of the canopy and the height and characteristics of the trees themselves - make these habitats unsuitable for many species. Fishers, for example, depend on the natural cavities found in older trees to create dens and protect themselves and their young.

These impacts are also occurring under the influence of climate change. It is suspected that a warming climate will result in extended fire seasons and increase the total area burned throughout the Klamath-Siskiyou region. Fuel management projects, which strive to reduce the risk of severe wildfires and sustain forested habitats, may pose their own set of threats to wildlife.

Conservation Approach

WCS is co-directing and collaborating with various partners in northern California, including the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Hoopa Valley Tribe, to conserve remnant fisher populations by collecting information on fisher dens, habitat requirements, forest thinning, and fuel management projects to inform federal, state, and tribal conservation strategies. Through these efforts we work with stakeholders to develop and adopt forest- and fuel-management practices to minimize impacts to wildlife.


Fisher on Hoopa Tribal Lands

WCS began working in the Klamath-Siskiyou in 2004, building a collaboration between the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other federal, state, and private partners to develop region-wide forest management recommendations to benefit the imperiled and culturally-significant fisher. Our conservation approach involved developing collaborative, field-science based solutions to reduce the impacts of the diverse group of extractive and agricultural industries that supports livelihoods in the region. WCS's work with the Hoopa Tribe exemplifies how our organization assists Native American communities to inform their natural resource management and wildlife conservation decision-making.


Latest Publications

All Klamath River Watershed Publications >>

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WCS North America Program
212 South Wallace Avenue, Suite 101 Bozeman, MT, 59715 USA
(406) 522-9333

Partners Include

Hoopa Valley Tribe
Integral Ecology Research Center