Klamath Siskiyou

Protecting 220,000 Acres in the world-class Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion

For over a decade, Geos Institute has played a lead science role documenting the world-class biodiversity of this 10-million acre region in southwest Oregon, northern California. Recently our science publications recognized it as a critical climate refuge for rare plants and wildlife to weather the coming climate change storm, if protected from unsustainable land use.

The biodiversity hotspot within the larger Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion is the ~quarter-million acre south Kalmiopsis area that borders northern California’s Smith River National Recreation Area and contains the highest concentration of rare plants of any of Oregon’s 1400 watersheds. Pristine headwaters support Oregon’s best remaining salmon runs and highest water quality. Just to the west, lie Oregon’s only ancient redwoods. Unfortunately, industrial scale nickel mining operations are proposed in the area that, if developed, would degrade the headwaters of the North Fork of the Smith River, which flows into the popular Smith River National Recreation Area, the headwaters of the Illinois River, which is a salmon stronghold, and important salmon spawning areas along Oregon's coast.

Geos Institute has been a central participant in a campaign to secure permanent protection for the Kalmiopsis area for the past two years. Our partners, Oregon Wild, American Rivers, KS Wild, and other local organizations, are bringing to bear their organizing experience and the Geos Institute is leveraging our scientific expertise in a multiyear campaign to meet our shared conservation goals to permanently protect this biodiversity hotspot.

Klamath Siskiyou Film

An impressive and beautiful film, capturing the heart of the wild Klamath Siskiyou region. You can watch the entire film below, and also make sure to visit www.ksfilm.org to learn more about the project, the filmaker, and ways to get involved.

Klamath from Aaron Moffatt on Vimeo.

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Expansion Hearing

On October 14, 2016 Senator Jeff Merkely held a public hearing on the proposed expansion of the approximately 62,000 acres Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which includes the Pilot Rock area. It was designated by President Clinton in 2000 as the nation's first monument to biodiversity and contains extraordinary plant and animal diversity. The region is considered a unique biological crossroads for wildlife and plants dispersing across the Cascades, Siskiyous, and Coast Range. It is the nation's only monument to biodiversity.

Scientists, including Geos Institute, have been calling for expansion of the monument to enable wildlife migrations facing unprecedented climate change and development in the surroundings.


Geos Institute submits testimony to the Senate to protect globally important Southwest Oregon watersheds

The U.S. Senate held a hearing on Sept. 22 in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that included legislation introduced by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to permanently protect some of the nation's most outstanding landscapes and rivers from destructive mining. Geos Institute's Chief Scientist, Dr. Dominick DellaSala, submitted testimony in support of this much needed legislation.

Read the full testimony here

Mystic Corridor Tour

From Crater Lake to the Coast

Join us for an online road tour down the Mystic Corridor, between Crater Lake National Park and the Pacific Coast, with its world-class recreation sites and scenic attractions.  This tour crosses the northern part of the Klamath-Siskiyou region on highways 62, 234, 99, and 199.

For each stop on this virtual tour, you will find:

  • a 2 to 3 minute video about the site and what you can do there    
  • driving directions and a map    
  • links to more information and resources

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Explore the Klamath-Siskiyou

Breathtaking beauty and untouched serenity are only a small part of what makes the Klamath-Siskiyou region so unique.

Teeming with life, the Klamath-Siskiyou is ranked one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. From the Pacific coast, the rain-soaked coastal redwood forests give way to the rugged Klamath Mountains, which are bordered on the east by the arid foothills of the Rogue and Shasta Valleys. Wild salmon and steelhead spawn in the pristine Wild and Scenic Rivers, while the clear, cold streams provide fresh drinking water for our local communities.

The Klamath-Siskiyou region's dense mountain forests and beautiful rivers provide a recreational wonderland for generations of families to enjoy and pass on.

The federally-protected Wilderness Areas, National Recreation Areas, National Forests, National Parks, and Wild and Scenic Rivers ensure that this national gem will remain for our future generations to treasure.

  • Geology

    From north to south, four mountain ranges span the Klamath-Siskiyou region: the Siskiyous, Marbles, Trinity Alps, and Yolla Bollys. Geologists call these mountains the "Klamath Knot," because they all have one thing in common: they are composed of a complex variety of rocks largely untouched by glaciers.

    Geologists believe these mountains were created about 200 million years ago when the North American plate and the Pacific plate collided. The heavier Pacific plate dove (subducted) underneath the North American plate, scraping layers of the ocean floor onto the edge of the continent. The pressure from this event thrust up mountains made of the ocean floor. Over millions of years, surface sediments were transformed by heat and pressure, becoming metamorphic schist and gneiss.

    Over time, these mountains eroded into rolling hills, until 3 million years ago when the great plates slipped sideways and split the ranges into large, upturned fault blocks. These became the steep, water-carved canyons we see today.

    The terrain is rugged, and its abrupt changes in geology, soils, elevation, slope, aspect, and moisture are the leading reason for the region's incredible diversity and variety.

  • Biodiversity

    The Klamath-Siskiyou's world-class biological diversity makes it one of the most unique ecosystems in the world.

    The great diversity and age of the region’s underlying geology and soils, as well as its geographic location, account for the Klamath Siskiyou’s astounding biodiversity.

    Positioned at the junction of the uplifted Coast Ranges, the volcanic Cascades, and Sierra Nevadas, the Klamath-Siskiyou was spared the vulcanism and glaciation that occurred around them, thus making the region a refuge for plant and animal species from all directions.

    Not only is it home to 3,500 plant species, but nearly 300 of them exist nowhere else on Earth. The region also contains 36 species of conifers, more than any other temperate forest region in the world.

  • Forests

    Large, majestic and varied, the forests of the Klamath-Siskiyou are both awe-inspiring and biologically fascinating.

    Thirty-six conifer species exist in the Klamath-Siskiyou, more than anywhere else in North America and possibly the world. In a one-square-mile area of the Russian Wilderness alone, 17 conifer species are found - the highest diversity of conifers ever recorded at a single site.

    The rain-soaked coastal redwood forests in the west contain the tallest trees on Earth, attracting tourists from all over the world.

    Ancient tree species found nowhere else on Earth include the Brewer spruce and Port Orford cedar, both survivors of the ice age.

    Experience the Klamath-Siskiyou and discover what makes this region a national treasure.

  • Watersheds

    The beautiful, healthy rivers of the Klamath-Siskiyou region bring countless benefits to the local communities.

    Every year, tens of thousands of people flock to these rivers, like the Rogue, Klamath, Salmon, and Smith, to raft, fish, hike and to just enjoy their inherent beauty.

    The Siskiyou Wild Rivers in the Oregon part of the Klamath-Siskiyou is home to the most iconic aquatic species in the Pacific Northwest: the Pacific Salmon. Native salmon and steelhead in the Rogue River watershed alone bring more than $1.5 billion to the local economy each year.

    Whether you love to enjoy river recreation or just a nice glass of fresh drinking water, the clear cold rivers in the watersheds of the Klamath-Siskiyou are valuable and important.

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