Smith River Alliance (SRA), Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) and California Trout lead an effort to acquire and conserve the watershed of Goose Creek, the principal tributary to the South Fork Smith River. Purchase of these lands is vital to long-term protection of the Smith River ecosystem.
In 2003, the landowner agreed to sell this 9,400-acre property to WRC for inclusion in the Smith River National Recreation Area. The SRNRA protects 450 square miles of watershed land managed by the Six Rivers National Forest and private landowners. Goose Creek drains 7% of the Smith basin. (To view a map of the Smith River Watershed highlighting the Goose Creek area, click the small map image on the right.)
The Goose Creek watershed is densely forested, primarily with Douglas fir but also with white fir, western white pine, jeffrey pine, lodgepole pine, and ponderosa pine increasing at the higher elevations. Redwood is at its inland limit here with occasional specimens occurring along upper reaches of Goose Creek. Rattlesnake Mountain ridge, which is the western extent of Goose Creek, supports extensive stands of pine and chaparral. Seeps and springs supporting Darlingtonia Californica and other fern-associated species are found with frequency along the western slopes above Goose Creek from the mouth south to Red Mountain. Immediately adjacent to Goose Creek is a lush streamside corridor, which includes riparian species such as red alder, big leaf maple, Port Orford cedar, Pacific yew, and California bay.
Goose Creek exemplifies the biological diversity of the Klamath/Siskiyou region. Its floral diversity supports a rich assemblage of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish including black bear, mountain lion, wolverine, northern spotted owl, endangered Del Norte salamander and tailed frog, chinook salmon, steelhead trout and coastal cutthroat trout. While the lower reach of the creek has high quality rearing habitat for salmonids, the upper reach is inaccessible to them and supports instead an abundance of resident fish.
The property follows Goose Creek from its origin in a spring in Red Mountain Meadows at elevation 4,000 feet. For seventeen miles Goose Creek rushes and meanders through a steep valley on Simpson property, entering Forest Service land at a point 2.5 miles from the confluence of Goose Creek with the South Fork Smith River at elevation 840 feet. Over this entire reach, Goose Creek is a National Wild and Scenic River (as are the Smith and all its main tributaries). This designation protects Goose Creek from federal actions but has no impact on private land use.
The recreation potential for Goose Creek is good for fishing, backcountry camping, and mountain biking. Despite private property and access difficulties, kayakers paddle two reaches of Goose Creek in order to experience the technical whitewater and wilderness-like setting.
The Smith River Alliance and partners worked together to build public support for the purchase of the property which was completed in 2008.