Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Healthy Streams and Happy Fish - A Message from the BLM Fisheries Biologist

As you hike the Lost Coast Trail you'll notice on the beaches and at creek mouths a large supply of wood debris. Much of the wood you see originates in coastal streams up and down the coast. This wood serves a vital importance to fish and wildlife.

In the picture above, practice using your "fish eyes" to spot the juvenile Steelhead in one of the many streams of the Lost Coast.

At the mouths of coastal streams these large pieces of wood get wedged and locked into many different formations. As the rainy season brings wood of various sizes down the streams, these jams will produce cover and relief to fish. In addition, as the powerful water flows over and through the wood, it carves out deep pools into the bottom of the streams. These large pools serve as refuge during both low and high flows for salmon and steelhead.

The mouths of these streams are amazing and ideal locations for campsites. Many campers use the wood from the mouth and surrounding beaches for firewood and/or shelter. Leave-No-Trace, The Center for Outdoor Ethics, states to use dead and downed wood no bigger in diameter than the size of your wrist and that can easily be broken by hand. The reasoning for this is to reduce fire danger, keep campsites clean and keep wildlife habitat intact. If campfires are permitted, Please be respectful in your use of the wood in close proximity to the mouths of streams.

Another disruption that has occurred is the movement of rocks and boulders in the streams to create dams and swimming holes – Surely there is nothing wrong with taking a dip, but rock formations create barriers for fish during the low flows and can also change the natural course of the stream. In addition, it can cause the water temperature to increase which is stressful and potentially deadly to fish.

Please be respectful to the streams and creeks that you may camp at. You can help keep the streams healthy and the fish happy by not disturbing their habitat.

If you have any questions about fish and wildlife habitat contact AJ Donnell at 707-825-2321, or

You can contact me about hiking the King Range and the Lost Coast

Your Wilderness Ranger,


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