The Headwaters Forest Reserve encompasses the headwaters of the Little South Fork Elk River and Salmon Creek. These streams are key components of the old-growth redwood forest community. The ecological values of the streams include unparalleled diversity of plant and animals species, including old growth redwoods, marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, bald eagle, Coho and Chinook salmon, and steelhead. Salmon Creek in particular is dominated by old growth redwood forest and possesses abundant woody debris and deep pools – key habitat features needed for healthy salmon and steelhead fisheries. The stream corridors are also rich in historic and prehistoric resources.
In recognition of these outstanding fish, wildlife, historic, and prehistoric values, the BLM has recommended Wild & Scenic River protection for the Little South Fork Elk River and Salmon Creek. Designating the streams would protect their outstanding values and free flowing character, as well as complement the overall protection provided by the Headwaters Forest Reserve.