Prairie Creek Subbasin Overview

The Prairie Creek Subbasin includes the May Creek and Lost Man Creek planning watersheds and a large portion of the Skunk Cabbage Creek Planning Watershed. Prairie Creek drains approximately 40 square miles of the northwestern portion of the Redwood Creek basin and joins Redwood Creek near river mile 3.5. Most of the Prairie Creek watershed (98%) is in public lands managed by Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP). The RNSP is a World Heritage Site and is part of the California Coast Range Biosphere Reserve, designations that reflect worldwide recognition of the park’s irreplaceable natural resources.

Much of the upper watershed of Prairie Creek and Little Lost Man Creek watersheds are relatively undisturbed. These areas retain old growth forest characteristics and provide some of the highest quality fisheries habitat within the Redwood Creek basin.

Prairie Creek Subbasin Summary
Square Miles 39.59
Total Acreage 25,339
Private Acres 463
Federal Acres 18,247
State Acres 6,629
Predominant Land Use Park land
Predominant Vegetation Type Redwood forest
Miles of Anadromous Stream 24
Low Elevation (feet) 26
High Elevation (feet) 2,270
The Prairie Creek Subbasin supports self-sustaining populations of Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. This subbasin provides the most coho salmon habitat and supports the largest coho population of all subbasins in Redwood Creek. Recent counts of spawning Chinook and coho show an increase from the low numbers observed in the early 1980s. However, a review of available information concludes that salmonid populations are well below historic levels of abundance.

RNSP maintains and protects natural resources and refugia habitat that are important to the recovery and expansion of anadromous salmonid populations of the Redwood Creek Basin. In addition, the Prairie Creek Subbasin provides an excellent opportunity for planning and implementing management to maintain and improve stream habitat conditions and to strengthen anadromous stocks of Redwood Creek.

The Prairie Creek Subbasin is an excellent location to study watershed science and to observe responses of fish populations in disturbed versus undisturbed watersheds. These streams offer the opportunity to compare and contrast natural stream recovery with habitat improvement projects aimed at increasing aquatic habitat quality and fish abundance and diversity.

Redwood Creek - Prairie Creek Subbasin

Prairie Creek

Prairie Creek - Courtesy of National Park Services