From their sources in the Yolla-Bolly Wilderness to their confluence, the upper Middle Eel River and Balm of Gilead Creek flows through rugged and little-visited canyons clothed in mixed Douglas fir, Jeffry pine, and oak forests, forming numerous cascades, waterfalls, and large pools along the way.
The Forest Service recommended Wild & Scenic protection of these important headwater streams of the existing Middle Eel Wild & Scenic River because they provide outstanding habitat for rare summer steelhead and represent an important aquatic refuge for the southernmost population of summer steelhead on the West Coast. The Middle Eel also supports the largest single run of summer steelhead in the state.
The upper Middle Eel and Balm of Gilead watersheds are defined by some of the least-used trails in the Yolla-Bolly Wilderness, allowing for true solitude for hikers, equestrians, anglers and others seeking a primitive experience in one of the more pristine upper watersheds of the Coast Range. In addition to summer steelhead in the streams, the forested watersheds provide habitat for the endangered spotted owl and goshawk.
Wild & Scenic protection of the upper Middle Eel and Balm of Gilead Creek would complement the existing Middle Fork Wild & Scenic River downstream.