Recreate on the Wild Rogue

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The Wild Rogue River is internationally recognized for its excellent fishing and boating opportunities. There is such a demand to float downriver from Grave Creek into the heart of the Rogue Canyon that a lottery system has been established to award permits. A vibrant commercial boating industry exists on the river as well. Tourism on the Wild & Scenic part of the river contributes up to $30 million annually to the local economy.

Hiking and nature viewing are also extremely popular on the Wild Rogue. The Historic Rogue River National Scenic Trail begins at Grave Creek and continues downriver for 40 miles. The two-mile Rainie Falls Trail on the south side of the river affords easy access for visitors to witness numerous successful and unsuccessful passages of Rainie Falls of both humans and salmon.

World Class Fisheries

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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.

The lower Rogue River and tributaries provide extremely 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.18 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 and are the weakest part of the Klamath Mountain Province ESU. About 20 species of game and non-game fish inhabit this area including Pacific lamprey.

Wild Rogue Nature

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The Wild Rogue is one of the premier rivers for wildlife viewing in America and provides refuge for a variety of wildlife species. Peregrine falcons nest near the river and the area is core habitat for 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 roadless area. 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.

The forests of the Rogue watershed are world renowned. A variety of conifer and hardwood tree species and evergreen shrubs provide the majority of vegetation in the Wild Rogue Roadless Areas. Evergreen hardwoods such as madrone, chinquapin, and tanoak dominate plant communities. Oregon white oak series is found on dry, south-facing slopes. Canyon live oak is found on rocky sites.

Older forests are very prevalent in the area. Conifer species include Douglas fir, white fir, sugar pine, ponderosa pine, incense cedar, Port-Orford cedar, and Pacific yew. Jeffrey pine is often present on the serpentine soils. Understory species in older forests include rhododendron and salal. The Wild Rogue North Watershed Analysis (which studied the watershed that includes the Whisky Creek and the north part of the Zane Grey Roadless Areas) found that 32 percent of the forests were older than 150 years.

Getting there

The easiest route to the proposed Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River additions is from Interstate 5. Take the Merlin exit (61) and drive west on the Merlin-Galice road for 23 paved miles. There is a boat ramp and trailhead near the mouth of Grave Creek. Trails on either side of the river take you into the heart of the Wild Rogue.

The Wild Rogue Roadless Areas (Zane Grey, Whisky Creek, Grave Creek and Mule Creek units) and important lower Rogue River tributaries are approximately 26 miles northwest of Grants Pass, Oregon. The roadless areas and free flowing streams, profiled in this report, border the Wild & Scenic Rogue River for some 20 river-miles, from Grave Creek to the Rogue River Ranch near Marial, Oregon.