Nov. 20, 2012 - The newly protected 520 acres completing the South Fork Eel River Wilderness are perched near the summit of Red Mountain. The Red Mountain and Cedar Creek drainages dominate the South Fork Eel Wilderness and are tributaries to the South Fork Eel Wild and Scenic River. The South Fork forms the main tributary to the Eel River, which supports spawning grounds for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead trout.
More than half of the over 13,000 acres in the South Fork Eel River Wilderness is characterized by reddish soil that sharply contrasts with the surrounding landscape. These ultrabasic soils result in a unique vegetation cover of pine and cypress trees with a low brush understory, including several rare and endangered plant species. These rare plants have been isolated over space and time on serpentine rock near the summit of Red Mountain. This sky island holds the northern range extension of Sargent cypress, and is the only location to find Red Mountain buckwheat and Red Mountain stonecrop.
The Wilderness Land Trust worked for over three years to protect the property by purchasing it and then transferring it to the US Bureau of Land Management. The South Fork Eel River Wilderness is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Arcata Field Office.
"Acquisition of these parcels brings 200 acres of wilderness inholding and 320 acres of wilderness edge-holding into public ownership within the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area," said Lynda Roush, Field Manager, Arcata Field Office, BLM. "The Wilderness Land Trust was instrumental in facilitating our purchase of this significant wilderness property. BLM will now be able to facilitate public access to this beautiful and rugged wilderness area in the future."
"The land was the only property within the Red Mountain section of the South Fork Eel Wilderness to remain in private ownership," said Aimee Rutledge, the land trust's California Program Manager. "Private uses like motorized access and mineral and timber development could have despoiled an unbroken expanse of wilderness."
"This acquisition builds on over 1,500 acres of prior acquisitions by the Trust in the South Fork Eel Wilderness areas, including acquisitions that helped create the proposed, now designated, wilderness," said Reid Haughey, president of The Wilderness Land Trust.
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