Intermountain Trails: January 2015

January 2015                                                               Volume 4, Issue 1
USDA Forest Service -- Intermountain Region

Forest in Focus: Salmon-Challis National Forest

Forest Supervisor - Chuck Mark

Picture of Chuck Mark Kayaking

Welcome to the Salmon-Challis National Forest!  We just celebrated the 50thAnniversary of the Wilderness Act which provided the foundation to establish, “Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness” in 1980.

The “Frank Church” is the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and is a land of steep, rugged mountains, deep canyons, and wild, whitewater rivers. 

My family and I floated the Middle Fork of the Salmon River this past summer, which is one of the most sought after wilderness, whitewater trips in the country.  The Middle Fork of the Salmon starts in the high country forests of subalpine fir, lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce and runs 104 miles through the heart of the Frank Church till its waters mingle with the Main Fork of the Salmon River.  The crystal, clear waters of the Middle Fork descend from the subalpine forest into the high mountain desert into impassable, sheer-walled canyons where only Bighorn Sheep can traverse and survive.  Approximately 10,000 people float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River each summer to see its wildlife, fly fish for westslope cutthroat trout or soak in its hot springs.

Another remarkable sight I witnessed this summer was the return of the spring/summer Chinook salmon to spawn in the Forest’s creeks and streams.  This endangered fish swims upstream from the Pacific Ocean past dams, irrigation diversions, fishermen and through rapids and waterfalls to reach the small tributaries where these fish were born in order to spawn.  The Salmon-Challis NF is home to some of the few wild salmon spawning runs left in the State of Idaho.  I saw these wild Chinook salmon spawning in Camas Creek in August; it was truly a remarkable sight to behold.  These salmon travel 750 miles to reach Camas Creek to complete their cycle of life. 

The Salmon-Challis NF is a landscape of vast diversity, incredible scenery, which includes abundant wildlife, fish and bird species which you can experience while pursuing your favorite recreation activity.  Come and enjoy the Salmon-Challis!

 

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