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There was a woman playing a traditional Indian flute to welcome the salmon back. It added a nice touch.
Shasta Big Springs Ranch
Closest available address
701 South Mount Shasta Boulevard Mount Shasta, CA 96067
Specific hours scheduled for visitor days
Best time to visit
The Shasta Big Springs Ranch is a 4,500 acre Nature Conservancy preserve. It was purchased to help dwindling runs of Chinook and Coho Salmon which had once been prolific but have fallen off precipitously in recent years. The Conservancy has significantly improved the property for the fish and periodically opens it for visitors to watch the salmon migration.
The Shasta Ranch is located in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. The ground here is fairly porous so when the snow on Mt. Shasta melts it generates underground springs which emerge on the Big Springs Ranch and form creeks. These creeks are critical tributaries for Klamath River Salmon because the water runs clear and cold year round. The Conservancy recognized the ranch’s importance long ago but was only able to purchase it in 2009. Cattle now have been excluded from the delicate creek beds and vegetation has been planted to reduce erosion and lower water temperatures. Conditions have improved and salmon numbers are up. However, the salmon are still at risk from multiple dams on the Klamath River, overfishing, and other factors.
The Conservancy organized visitor days in the fall of 2011 and 2012. These may become regular events but it’s best to check first because otherwise the ranch is not open. The 2012 visitor day was well organized, informative and enjoyable from start to finish. Conservancy staff and volunteers were on hand at 3 primary viewing areas to answer questions and explain salmon biology. All of the viewing areas were accessible by foot but some involved walking through high grass or down steep slopes. For fans of salmon or just those looking to enjoy a natural setting, this event is well worth the time to see a remarkable migration story. The Conservancy is gracious to open the property for public viewing and if/when it does so again, nature lovers will not want to miss a chance to watch these amazing animals up close.
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