Battle Creek

A sublime and vibrant watershed teetering on the edge of robust purpose or environmental mayhem.


PelicanNetwork member Dan McCorquodale, former chair of the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources, surveys cut areas with Marily Woodhouse. For more than four years Marily has mapped the cut areas. For seven years in the Senate, Dan oversaw great strides in California to make timber harvesting sane. Most of the good work by the Legislature was overturned by Schwarzernegger.


As part of a long-sought, well conceived, state and federal agencies and many community-based restoration groups are spending $128 million to restore the Sacramento River once great salmon fishery. Dams are being demolished downstream in Battle Creek and fish passages are being created to allow the fish to return to their ancestral waters. It promises to be a joyous reunion for the valiant native fish who have suffered so much, nearly to the extinction, at the hands of man.


In spite of the mayhem a burgeoning wine making industry is organically blossoming and bringing purpose and pleasure to the handsome landscape. It won't be long before a petite syrah from here will be a beacon to culinary adventurers.


The promise of a new day brought by the fish is daunted by the rapacious tree cutters. Just behind a thin vein of trees left to camouflage the carnage, lie huge sweeps of clear cuts. There is no promise of a new day there. It is the heart breaking death scene of a bygone era when there was no public oversight for greed.


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We visited the once-idyllic but now-embattled watershed over the weekend of July 10 & 11.

As a promise land for salmon, it was everything you could hope it would be. It can become the wondrous habitat for restoring California's once great salmon fishery. Beautiful forested lands defined by many streams perfect for wild fish to spawn. We wanted to see the area targeted by many fishing, conservation and public agencies, federal and state, for salmon recovery.


The gorgeous watershed which slopes up from the grand Sacramento River in the lee of the mighty volcanic monolith Mt. Lasen, a 14,000 ft prince of a white headed watch tower over this beautiful region.

But it is the place of economic mayhem. A monstrous industrial logging company is reigning havoc on the environment. It clear cuts in checkerboard fashion all over the watershed devastating the streams and ruining the native habitat. In the cuts from the last three years there is no life but invasive weeds. All the native plants, and all the animals, and all the butterflies are gone. It is ugly and depressing.

The cut areas are cleared only of the marketable wood. The remains of the cut, piles of slash are left as serious fire hazzard.


Leopard Lily, a native of the Sierra Nevada, watches over the precious headwaters of Battle Creek's tributaries.

Waters from deep springs and cold heights of Mt Lasen are getting fouled by industrial logging. Sediment is smothering otherwise ideal spawing and rearing areas for salmon.

Meadows, the creation of Indians and homesteaders, remain on island property safe from the logging as reminders of a more pleasant time.

A long time ago much of the area was purchased by PG&E for power plants on the streams. That is the work that is now being corrected by the restoration project.

Meadows, created by Indians and homesteaders, remain on island property safe from the logging as reminders of a more pleasant time.

A long time ago much of the area was purchased by PG&E for power plants on the streams. That is the work that is now being corrected by the restoration project.

Battle Creek is everybody's watershed.

The terrible irony here is the promise of restoration and what that will bring to California on one hand, and the sad resignation on the other hand of seeing California ravished for somebody's profit.

This would not be happening if California's department of forestry had been run by people who cared about the forest instead of pleasing loggers.

It could have been run by people who cared about forests and fish. That would have been much more profitable to everybody. Studies show that a restored salmon fishery would mean billions of dollars to California.

We think the new administration in California wants that.


Photos and text by Jack Ellwanger, PelicanNetwork

Battle Creek Salmon Restoration Project

The Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project (Restoration Project) is being implemented near the town of Manton, California in Shasta and Tehama Counties (Project Location Map). Upon its completion, the Restoration Project will reestablish approximately 42 miles of prime salmon and steelhead habitat on Battle Creek, plus an additional 6 miles on its tributaries. The species include the Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon (state- and federally listed as threatened), the Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon (state- and federally listed as endangered), and the Central Valley steelhead (federally listed as threatened). More...


The Restoration Project is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), Pacific Gas and Electric Company and various resource agencies, including the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the California Department of Fish and Game, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Bay Delta Authority, with valuable participation from the public, including the Greater Battle Creek Watershed Working Group and the Battle Creek Watershed Conservancy. This partnership provides the framework for restoring one of the most important anadromous fish spawning streams in the Sacramento Valley, while maintaining a renewable energy resource for electric customers in California. More

Help Stop Clear Cutting in Battle Creek Watershed - Help Save Salmon Recovery

Join our effort to protect the forests of Battle Creek and the restoration of salmon

Despite vigorous movement airating the heeadwaters of Battle Creek, the streams are clouding and choking in sediment. This is bad for fish.

Marily Woodhouse, a resident of Manton in the hearrt of Battle Creek watershed, points out the deleterious effects of clear cutting on the stream.

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