Northern California’s iconic Hat Creek, renowned for its world-class fly fishing, breathtaking scenery, and recreational allure, has been permanently safeguarded through a joint effort by Shasta Land Trust, Pacific Forest & Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, and Pacific Gas & Electric.
This conservation initiative has secured a sprawling 1,750-acre property extending from Cassel to the Pit River, further connecting to two existing Shasta Land Trust conservation easements. This collective protection envelops an impressive 4,267 acres of contiguous lands along Hat Creek towards the Pit River confluence.
The newly preserved property encompasses critical water resources, including 2.9 miles of Hat Creek, the entirety of Baum Lake and Crystal Lake, portions of the Rising River and Rock Creek, and vast expanses of wet meadow habitat. These riparian ecosystems offer vital sanctuary for aquatic species like osprey, blue heron, rainbow trout, and the endangered Shasta crayfish. The property’s diverse habitats, encompassing Montane hardwood, ponderosa pine, conifer, grasslands, and sagebrush areas, provide a haven for a rich array of native wildlife.
Famous among fly fishing enthusiasts, the property hosts a key trout habitat along Hat Creek, recognized as a “Wild Trout Water” by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Revered locally and internationally for its distinctive trout conditions, Hat Creek’s Wild Trout area is lauded as one of the state’s premier fly fishing destinations.
In addition to its ecological significance, the property has witnessed several restoration undertakings by various organizations to support endangered and threatened species. The Rock Creek Restoration Project and the Hat Creek Restoration Project have worked diligently to enhance habitats for the Shasta crayfish and wild trout populations.
The property is home to the Crystal Lake Hatchery, managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which plays a pivotal role in boosting local fish populations. Around 1.5 million fish are reared annually at the hatchery, including Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Eastern Brook Trout species. These fish contribute to replenishing approximately 60 lakes and streams across northern California.
Beyond fishing, the property provides an array of recreational opportunities accessible to the public. The Cassel Campground offers camping options adjacent to the property’s lakes and waterways. Multiple picnic sites overlook picturesque pelican-inhabited areas of Baum Lake, offering chances to spot native and migratory waterfowl. Hikers can explore scenic trails like the Hat Creek Carbon Bridge Trail and a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail within the property.
This conservation effort owes its success to the collaboration between Shasta Land Trust, the Stewardship Council, and PG&E. Through this partnership, the property’s unparalleled ecological, recreational, scenic, and economic values will remain unspoiled and accessible for generations to come.