Coho salmon spawning in the watersheds above Langlois
Langlois is nourished by, and centered around Floras Creek, a little-known, but highly productive salmon and steelhead stream on the southern Oregon Coast. Floras Creek is also the source of the City’s drinking water, with the water intake located just above Highway 101.
Each fall and winter, salmon and steelhead pour into Floras Creek and its tributaries. Some of these fish have been out in the Pacific Ocean for up to four years, ranging as far west as Alaska and Japan. When instinct urges them to return home, they align themselves with the earth’s magnetic fields and swim towards the waters north of Cape Blanco. When they finally arrive off-shore between Thanksgiving and Christmas, scientists believe they orient themselves even further by sensing the distinctive smell, or signature of Floras Creek water. These fish then cease eating, swim against the current for several days to ascend Floras Creek, and eventually spawn and die in their native stream, very near where they were born.
This miraculous process has been going on in our area for at least 15,000 years, and it is our responsibility to make sure it continues into the future.
Langlois residents have been active in restoring salmon habitat on the creek over the last 25 years. Projects up and down the creek have included:
- Placing rock “barbs” or vanes in the creek to reduce erosion and sedimentation.
- Providing off-stream watering systems to pull cattle and sheep away from the creek.
- Fencing out livestock to protect riparian areas (floodplains and lands next to the creek).
- Planting native tree species to hold soil, provide shade, reduce water temperatures, and provide macroinvertebrates (caddis flies, mayflies, stoneflies, etc) to the stream food web.
- Adding large whole logs to the stream in selected locations for hydrologic complexity and creating deep-water pools and refugia.
- Planting buffer strips to filter any run-off from lawns and farms before chemicals reach the creek.
The Floras Creek Watershed Council and the Curry Soil and Water Conservation District have worked with dozens and dozens of private landowners, who have taken the lead in implementing these voluntary projects.
One fish species that is now on the Endangered Species list throughout Oregon is Coho salmon. Floras Creek and its tributaries provide important freshwater habitat for these fish, and their populations are now beginning to rebound, thanks to the work of Floras Creek landowners and citizens. You can sometimes spot coho in our streams during peak spawning season. They turn a distinctive bright red when they enter fresh water.
South Coast Watershed Coordinator