River Stats:

  • Location: Eastern Klamath and Lake County
  • Length: 71 miles

Other Native Fish above Sycan Marsh:

  • Tui chub (happy minnow)
  • Miller Lake lamprey
  • Pit-klamath brook lamprey
  • Speckled dace

Other Native Fish below Sycan Marsh:

  • All species listed above except bull trout
  • Blue chub
  • Marbled sculpin
  • Lost River sucker (ESA Endangered)
  • Klamath largescale sucker

Extirpated fish:

  • Summer steelhead
  • Chinook salmon
  • Pacific lamprey?

Threats: grazing, irrigation, drought, development, logging

Invasive fish: brook trout, brown trout, fat head minnow

The Sycan River

The Sycan River's headwaters are in highlands in the Fremont National Forest south of Summer Lake. The river runs northwest into the Sycan Marsh in southern Lake County, from which it flows generally southwest to join the Sprague River near Beatty, in Klamath County. The uppermost 59 miles of the stream are designated Wild and Scenic.

Near its headwaters, the Sycan River, flowing west, receives Boulder Creek from the right and the South Fork Sycan River from the left. The Hanan Trail, a hiking path, runs roughly parallel to the river along this stretch, which is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Turning northwest, the Sycan receives Rock, Kelly, and Nixon creeks from the right before turning west again. Over the next stretch, Cummings Creek enters from the right, Rifle Creek from the left, and the Sycan leaves Lake County and enters Klamath County. Skull Creek then enters from the left and Currier Creek from the right.

Downstream of Currier Creek, Paradise Creek enters from the left, and the Sycan turns northwest and then north, leaving Klamath County and re-entering Lake County. Slightly north of the border, Long Creek enters from the right. After turning west and southwest, the river enters Sycan Marsh, a wetland of about 50 square miles. Continuing southwest through the marsh, the river leaves Lake County and re-enters Klamath County. Further downstream, Merritt Creek enters from the left. Meandering west and then south, the Sycan receives Blue Creek from the left, enters Sprague River Valley, receives Snake Creek from the left, and enters the Sprague River north of Beatty.

The Nature Conservancy owns most of the Sycan Marsh preserve and some of the surrounding forest. The marsh attracts thousands of migrating Tundra Swans, Sandhill Cranes, Yellow Rails, Black Tern, White-faced Ibises, and other species. The Sycan River and Marsh comprise a portion of the former reservation held by The Klamath Tribes and retains cultural significance.

Long Creek supports one of the nine remaining bull trout populations in the Klamath Basin. The Long Creek population is the only one that currently has a few larger bull trout up to 18 inches.

Two genetic legacies of redband trout occur in the Sycan River. The population above the Sycan Marsh, particularly studied in Paradise Creek, and the population associated with the adfluvial redband trout of Upper Klamath Lake in the lower Sycan.

The lower Sycan River is utilized by Lost River sucker, adfluvial redband trout and Klamath largescale sucker for spawning.

The upper Sycan watershed supports one of the few remaining Miller Lake lamprey populations in the Klamath Basin.

Chinook salmon and steelhead are expected to return after Klamath River dam removal in 2020.

Conservation Actions

  • Conservation easements
  • Establishment of wildlife corridor along privately owned section of stream
  • Restoration/enhancement
  • Public education/hikes
  • Native plant/vernal pool inventories
  • Fencing out livestock from stream

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