Middle Subbasin Overview

The Middle Subbasin includes the area above the confluence of Redwood and Devil’s creeks, up to the confluence of Redwood and Lupton creeks, including the Lupton Creek watershed. The predominant land use in the Middle Subbasin is timber production, and some livestock grazing occurs in Redwood Valley. The Middle Subbasin includes the following Planning watersheds:

Coyote Creek Roaring Gulch
Panther Creek Toss-up Creek
Lower Lacks Creek Minor Creek
Upper Lacks Creek Lupton Creek
Principal features within the Middle Subbasin include coniferous forestland, the Park Protection Zone, and rural developments in Redwood Valley. The Park Protection Zone was established on private lands in 1978 and includes lands within Coyote, Panther, and Upper and Lower Lacks creek planning watersheds. The Park protection zone enables RNSP staff to participate in the State’s timber harvest plan process and to develop cooperative relationships with private landowners. Approximately 2,300 acres in the Lacks Creek watershed is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as late successional reserves.

Approximately 24 miles of mainstem Redwood Creek and 161 miles of blue line tributary stream channel drain the surrounding landscape. The 24 miles of mainstem Redwood Creek and approximately 19 miles of tributary channels are accessible to anadromous salmonids. Anadromous fishery resources of the Middle Subbasin include Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout.

Middle Subbasin Summary
Square Miles 100.14
Total Acreage 64,088
Private Acres 57,843
Federal Acres 5,838
State Acres 0
Principal Communities Redwood Valley
Predominant Land Use Timber production and livestock grazing
Predominant Vegetation Type Douglas-fir forest/hardwoods
Miles of Anadromous Stream 43.0
Low Elevation (feet) 325
High Elevation (feet) 4,091
Middle Subbasin streams provide important spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous salmonids. Steelhead and coastal cutthroat predominate in the tributary streams year round while Chinook depend mostly on the mainstem for spawning habitat and temporary juvenile rearing. Coho salmon once present in some tributaries were not observed during many 2001 surveys. Summer steelhead are likely the most threatened salmonid stock inhabiting the Redwood Creek Basin.

The mainstem Redwood Creek has slowly adjusted from destructive impacts related to intensive land use and the 1964, 1972, 1975 floods. These storms occurred during an era when much of the Redwood Creek basin was undergoing unregulated timber harvests. Timber harvest activities contributed to destabilization of the land and increased runoff rates causing severe erosion, and severe damage to the stream channel including aggradation, widening, streambank erosion, and filling of pools with sediments. Sediments are presently moving from the active channel of tributaries and upper and middle reaches of Redwood Creek, but they tend to accumulate in lowest gradient and unconfined reaches. An increase in channel structure has recently been observed, however this has not occurred without setbacks related to landslides induced by moderate storm events. Because of the combination of natural instability across the Middle Subbasin, legacy land disturbances effects, and land use that results in new ground disturbance, winter storms still pose risks for excessive erosion and sediment inputs to anadromous salmonids streams. This occurred during the winter of 1997 when an increase in landslides and associated sediment inputs were measured at RNSP cross sections.

High water temperature is likely the most limiting factor to salmonid production in mainstem Redwood Creek. The high water temperature is related to the lack of shade along middle and upper mainstem reaches. Other significant factors affecting salmonids production in the mainstem are related to excessive sediment inputs and include lack of pools and lack of instream shelter complexity. Trees that are large enough to function as LWD need to be allowed to grow and recruit to stream channels from riparian and near stream forest areas. Tributary streams generally provide good water temperature, except in lower reaches of Lacks and Minor creeks. Tributaries also showed a lack of deep pool habitat and instream shelter complexity.

The Middle Subbasin offers opportunities for implementing watershed habitat improvement activities. Watershed management strategies aimed at reducing erosion and developing functional near stream forests will help address landscape issues. This will help to reduce water temperature, increase bank stability, provide a source of LWD, and reduce sediment inputs to stream channels. Stream habitat improvement activities should focus on increasing depth and complexity of existing pool habitats, and adding shelter complexity to cool water refuge sites.

Redwood Creek - Middle Subbasin

Perched sediment delta at mouth of Panther Creek impeeds upstream migration of coho to spawning grounds.