Klamath-Siskiyou Forests, USA

Tracking the Pacific Fisher Video
In California, WCS works with the Hoopa tribe to preserve the redwoods for an elusive forest mammal.
©WCS
Klamath-Siskiyo Forests, USA Photo
©Hoopa Tribal Forestry
Klamath-Siskiyou Forests, USA Photo
©Julie Larsen Maher

This mixed conifer temperate forest region of northern California-southern Oregon has the largest network of roadless wilderness remaining in the Pacific Northwest. The Klamath-Siskiyou area was spared from glaciation during recent ice ages and served as a refuge for hundreds of species whose habitats were covered by ice. Some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in North America occur here.

The landscape ranges from temperate rainforests to moist inland and oak woodlands to high elevation forests and alpine grasslands. It harbors more than 30 types of conifers—the highest concentration in North America. There are swaths of wild lands large enough to support mountain lions, black bears, fishers, wolverines, northern spotted owls, bald eagles, and several species of Pacific salmon.

Fast Facts

  • This eco-region extends across 19,400 square miles of the southern Cascades and neighboring mountain ranges.
  • There are roughly 3,500 plant types in the region, 220 of which are found nowhere else in the world.
  • While more than 25 percent of the primary forests in this landscape are still standing, only 10 percent are protected.
  • WCS and the Hoopa Valley Tribe are working to ensure fisher continue to scamper along logs on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation and throughout the western range of the fisher.

Challenges

The threats to the ecosystems in the Klamath-Siskiyou landscape plague forests and watersheds worldwide: conversion of primary forests to logging plantations, widespread overgrazing by livestock, mining, rampant off-road vehicle use, excessive road construction by federal and private landowners, and invasive non-native species. Pressure from industrial resource extraction, fires and/or fire suppression, and human encroachment are causing concern for many wildlife species.

WCS Responds

WCS has been working since 2004 with California’s Hoopa Valley tribe to preserve the redwood forest and the Pacific fisher. The fisher is an ecologically important forest carnivore that lives in low elevation old-growth forests of the northern United States and Canada. Genetic studies have established that West Coast populations of this member of the weasel family in the Sierra Nevadas and the Klamath Mountains are genetically distinct. However, in California, fishers occupy less than half of their historic range. The loss of these carnivores is attributed to over-trapping for their fur and loss of habitat to commercial timber harvesting.

Logging on the 144-square-mile Hoopa Valley reservation is the largest single source of revenue and employment for tribal members. Tribal leaders have taken a conservation-minded approach to logging, and the tribe’s practices have allowed fishers and other forest species to survive there. WCS conservationists and their Hoopa Valley colleagues have radio-collared and tracked more than 35 fishers to study their ecology in the region.

WCS and its northern California Hoopa fisher collaboration held a workshop in 2009 with foresters and biologists representing federal, state, and local government agencies, private timber companies, conservation groups, academia, and the Hoopa Tribe. WCS assisted participants in identifying possible Pacific fisher rest and den structures and other essential habitat elements for the carnivores’ conservation during timber and fuels management activities. These new insights will provide guidance during daily management operations and during the review of as many as 1,400 timber harvesting plans submitted annually from the nearly 17 million acres of commercial forest land that overlap fisher range in California alone.

From the Newsroom

Poisoned by Pot: A New Threat to FishersJuly 13, 2012

Fishers hunt rodents and are the only predators tenacious enough to regularly prey upon porcupines. Unfortunately, these hardy carnivores are now threatened by toxic rodenticides used by illegal growers of marijuana.

An Elusive Forest Carnivore Grows ScarcerJuly 7, 2011

Fisher numbers in northwestern California are falling. A new WCS study finds the population of these elusive forest predators dropped 73 percent in less than a decade.

The Eagles Have LandedFebruary 15, 2011

Two injured bald eagles find a new home at the WCS Bronx Zoo. These young birds from Wyoming add to the growing ranks of this once-endangered species now making a comeback in New York.

Highways to ConservationJuly 29, 2010

The new book Safe Passages: Highways, Wildlife and Habitat Connectivity, edited by WCS-North America Program conservationists Jon Beckmann and Jodi Hilty, provides a roadmap for making wildlife-friendly thoroughfares to connect islands of habitat.

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