Photo Credit: Uncage the Soul Productions
Frank Moore is legendary — a legendary flyfisherman, conservationist, and World War II veteran, and a legendary husband, father, and friend. Anyone who meets him does not soon forget him. When he talks to you, you know you matter.
That’s a rare gift. And now, all of us have a chance to give something back.
Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a bill in Congress to protect the 104,000-acre Steamboat Creek watershed as the Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary. (Jeanne Moore has spent her life identifying the myriad native plant species in the Steamboat Creek watershed and there is strong local support to honor her as well as Frank in this designation.) The bill is one piece of the larger puzzle to protect rivers and other waters in western Oregon’s forests. But it is an important piece.
The Steamboat Creek watershed is one of the most important ecological areas in the Pacific Northwest, providing over 50 river and stream miles of high-quality habitat for summer and winter steelhead, Coho salmon, cutthroat trout and other native species. Steamboat is the most productive steelhead tributary on the North Umpqua.
The Steamboat Creek watershed is also unique in that it serves as one of the few remaining cold-water refuges for summer steelhead, which migrate from the main North Umpqua River to the cooler waters of Steamboat and Canton creeks in the summer months, and hold in specific pools until the fall rains arrive. The Big Bend Pool of Steamboat Creek is one of the few places in the world where people can easily view hundreds of summer steelhead that use it as a refuge from warmer stream temperatures.
Moreover, the North Umpqua is largely fed by groundwater, not snowpack, so this watershed is likely to be more resilient to climate change than many others in the Northwest.
Yet, despite recognition of the proposed sanctuary’s ecological and economic importance, the area is not fully protected. The forests around Steamboat Creek have been logged in the past, but the area still has relatively large trees that provide great habitat for fish and wildlife, and support clean air and clean water.
Senator Wyden’s bill proposes permanent, legislative protections that help federal agencies ensure the area is managed to benefit fish, water, and education. Timber harvesting will still be allowed as long as it fits with these other management goals.
We’re grateful to Senator Wyden for proposing this bill, and for securing a hearing on it earlier this month. We will be rooting for it to get it through Congress — and also working to add the 40,000-acre Canton Creek watershed to the sanctuary, one of Steamboat Creek’s most productive tributaries. Canton Creek enters Steamboat very low in the watershed, but is one of Steamboat Creek’s most important and productive salmonid refuges.
Have you been to the North Umpqua River? Have you visited Big Bend Pool? What do you think about protecting this area for steelhead and other fish and wildlife?