Last Refuge Profile:
Mallard Larkins Roadless
Clearwater and Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Idaho
Sixty miles northeast of Orofino, Idaho, in the State's moist
panhandle, the 260,000 acre Mallard/Larkins Roadless Area
is one of the largest unprotected roadless areas anywhere
in the contiguous 48 states. The area is biologically diverse,
including low elevation disjunct coastal rainforest communities.
In the high country, extensive lodgepole pine and mountain
hemlock forests mingle with subalpine meadows, high mountain
lakes, and craggy peaks. Impressive pockets of old growth
western red cedar, western hemlock, and western white pine,
some quite massive, remain in the lower elevations.
The rare inland coastal rainforest habitat is well developed
in Isabella Creek. Here, large old growth red alder, pacific
yew and many different ferns thrive among the arboreal giants.
Thirty-eight mountain lakes are large enough to be named,
with Heart Lake being the largest at thirty-five acres.
The area is a sanctuary for abundant wildlife including pileated
woodpecker, northern goshawk, bear, moose, elk, mule and whitetail
deer, pine marten, gray wolf, lynx, wolverine, and a productive
mountain goat population. The healthy deer and elk populations
feed a growing population of wolves. There may be as many
as five wolf packs in the North Fork Clearwater country. High
mountain lakes with cutthroat trout lure many people in the
summer. On the south side, Isabella Creek is habitat for bull
trout, westslope cutthroat and kokanee salmon. Deep in the
heart of the roadless area, the Heritage Grove has 500 year-old
cedars over 150 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter.
Mallard/Larkins has a long history of support for wilderness
protection. A small portion of the high country was designated
as a Pioneer Area (about 30,000 acres). Unfortunately, road
building and logging have diminished this roadless area. In
addition, motorized vehicles have degraded parts of the area
including the Elizabeth Lakes region. Still, most of the area
is extremely wild with many unique and interesting features.
The removal of a few dirt logging roads would combine the
Great Burn, Bighorn-Weitas, Mallard/Larkins, Pot Mountain,
and Meadow Creek areas into a single 900,000 acre roadless
area. The Mallard/Larkins provides some of the best deer and
elk hunting in the region. Though the area is busy during
hunting season, through most of the year the area offers excellent
opportunities for solitude. Backpacking from the low elevations
to the subalpine areas is truly wondrous. Fishing is popular
in the high mountain lakes and in the St. Joe, North Fork
and the Little North Fork of the Clearwater River. The St.
Joe River is a National Wild and Scenic River. Camping opportunities
abound throughout. Swimming, bird watching, mountain climbing,
backcountry skiing, and photography are some of the other
activities available in the area.
While the Mallard /Larkins roadless area receives strong public
support for Wilderness protection and has been proposed for
protection in The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act
(NREPA), it is currently protected only by the Roadless Area
Source: Friends of the Clearwater and
Heritage Forests Campaign
For more information:
Friends of the Clearwater
PO Box 9241
Moscow, ID 83843