An outstanding opportunity exists to protect over 5,400 acres of the Hurdygurdy Creek, Little Jones Creek and Siskiyou Fork watersheds once owned by the Agnew Corporation of Washington. Upon completion of this acquisition, these watersheds will become a protected part of the Smith River National Recreation Area.

The Smith River is one of the crown jewels of the National Wild and Scenic River System. The proposed acquisition is entirely within the boundary of the 450-square-mile Smith River NRA and is surrounded by public lands, including the Siskiyou Wilderness, less than three miles to the east. Without protection, these parcels could be subdivided for recreational, second-home development.

Habitat and Recreational Value


Hurdygurdy Creek drains a 29-square mile area circumscribed by Bear Basin and Hurdygurdy Buttes, the west slope of Fox Ridge and Gordon Mountain. Little Jones Creek, a tributary to the Middle Fork Smith River supports resident rainbow and cutthroat trout. This resident trout population has been the focus of intensive fisheries research for the past decade. In addition to their inherent refugia values, these watersheds provide very stable flows of cold, clean water to the main forks of the Smith River — especially important to salmonids residing in the main stem during the late summer and early fall. Protection of these watersheds will further secure the future of California’s finest wild river system.

The third phase of the Hurdygurdy Project was completed on September 3, 2013.  This phase included approximately 1680 acres mostly located in the Little Jones Creek Watershed within the Smith River National Recreation Area managed by the Six Rivers National Forest.  Together with Phases I and II, 2923 acres of the 5289 acres in the Hurdygurdy Project have now been transferred into public ownership.

The lands acquired in Phase III of the Hurdygurdy Purchase include land in the headwaters of Little Jones Creek, a designated recreational river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  Little Jones Creek may provide habitat for a genetically distinct population of coastal cutthroat trout that has been isolated by impassible falls near its junction with the Middle Fork of the Smith River.

A portion of the acquired lands include ultramafic geology that provides habitat for a variety of obligate and faculatively adapted plants. The purchase secures and preserves outstanding public recreation access to a remote area of the National Recreation Area with significant hunting, fishing and general motorized and non-motorized recreation use and potential.

Funding for this phase of the Hurdygurdy Project came the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other sources.

How You Can Help

The Smith River Alliance would like to complete Phase IV and V of the project, which should result in the transfer of the rest of the Hurdygurdy tract into public ownership.  This is extremely important habitat for Smith River salmon, steelhead and resident trout.

Please Write a Letter: Download and review the sample letter using the link below. Review and personalize your letter, then follow the instructions below to send it to Senator Feinstein.

Sample Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (Word file)

Send via fax to (202) 228-3954.

Hurdygurdy Creek Project summary (PDF)

Daily Triplicate article June 6, 2009