The Siuslaw National Forest is a beautiful area of forested mountains located in Oregon's Coast Range. The headwaters of numerous streams accumulate here before tumbling down toward the Pacific Ocean. Historically, the streams that drain Oregon's mid-coastal mountains contained very strong populations of salmon and steelhead. Decades of logging forested slopes and clearing river bottoms for pastureland have degraded the once robust runs of salmon and steelhead. Oregon coastal coho salmon have been federally listed as "Threatened," and both the winter steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout are federal "Candidates."
Despite the declining salmon and steelhead runs in Oregon's coastal rivers, some streams in the Siuslaw basin continue to maintain viable populations. In partnership with the Siuslaw National Forest and private landowners, Western Rivers Conservancy conserved one of the best reaches of currently strong salmon and steelhead streams remaining in the Siuslaw National Forest's Watershed Restoration Demonstration Area: Fivemile/Bell Creeks.
In 2002, Western Rivers Conservancy purchased 640-acres of high-quality salmon habitat along Fivemile and Bell Creek. These creeks produce the highest density of spawning coho salmon of any streams on the entire Oregon Coast. They also contain runs of winter steelhead and sea-run and resident cutthroat trout. Fivemile and Bell Creeks drain into Lake Tahkenitch, where the lake is a natural buffer from pasture development and provides good coho rearing habitat.