The Chetco River is a 56-mile (90 km) long stream located in the
southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Oregon. It drains
approximately 352 square miles (912 km2) of Curry County. Flowing
through a rugged and isolated coastal region, it descends rapidly from
about 3,200 feet (975 m) to sea level at the Pacific Ocean. The river's
watershed was originally settled one to three thousand years ago by the
Chetco and other Native American tribes. Several explorers, including
Sir Francis Drake, George Vancouver, and Jedediah Smith visited the
region between the 16th and 19th centuries. European American settlers
arrived soon after gold and other precious metals were discovered in
the 1840s and 1850s. The watershed remains largely undeveloped,
protected by the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest and the
Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The upper 45 miles (72 km) of the river have
been designated Wild and Scenic since October 28, 1988. Supporting a
large population of salmon and trout, the Chetco's water is of very
high quality. The watershed is home to many other species, including
several that are endemic to the Siskiyou Mountains area. The
northernmost grove of Redwoods—the tallest trees on Earth—grow in the
southern region of the Chetco's drainage basin. In total, the river is
home to over 200 species of animals, and 97 percent of the watershed is
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