Ventana Wild Rivers Campaign
|Segment 1||Source to Ventana Wilderness boundary||3.68 miles||Wild|
|Segment 2||Ventana Wilderness boundary to the confluence with Roosevelt Creek||.5 miles||Recreational|
|Segment 3||Roosevelt Creek confluence to confluence with unnamed tributary in Sec. 1, T20S, R5E||1.69 miles||Scenic|
|Segment 4||Unnamed tributary to the Ventana Wilderness boundary upstream of the Tassajara Creek confluence||8.68 miles||Wild|
|Segment 5||Ventana Wilderness boundary upstream of the Tassajara Creek confluence to the Rocky Creek confluence||2.13 miles||Scenic|
|Segment 6||Rocky Creek confluence to the Los Padres National Forest boundary||2.53 miles||Recreational|
Tassajara Creek is the largest tributary of the Arroyo Seco River. The creek flows southeast from the slopes of South Ventana Cone past Tassajara Hot Springs and into the Arroyo Seco River. Most of the creek's 10.4 miles are located on public lands in the Ventana Wilderness.
Church Creek is Tassajara Creek's largest tributary. It flows southwest from the Church Creek divide that separates Church Creek from Pine Valley and the Carmel River watershed into Tassajara Creek, about 2.5 miles upstream of Tassajara Hot Springs. Most of Church Creek is located on public lands and the Ventana Wilderness.
The Forest Service completed a Wild & Scenic study of Tassajara Creek in 2005. The agency concluded that the creek was free flowing but did not possess any outstanding values. Conservationists believe that all 10.4 miles of the creek possess outstanding fish, wildlife, cultural, and recreational values. The Forest Service did not assess Church Creek for eligibility.
Fish & Wildlife — Threatened central coast steelhead migrate all the way from the Pacific Ocean up the Salinas and Arroyo Seco Rivers to spawn in Tassajara Creek's high quality habitat. The creek also supports one of the few Central Coast populations of the sensitive foothill yellow-legged frog.
Cultural — Tassajara Creek and its mineral rich hot springs have been a destination for human use for thousands of years, first as a sacred cultural site of the Esselen Indians, later as a historic resort site, and now the locale of the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, which carries on the 1,000 year-old tradition of monastic zen training.
Inside a cave in a narrow canyon near Tassajara
The vault of rock is painted with hands,
A multitude of hands in the twilight, a cloud of men's palms, no more,
No other picture. There's no one to say
Whether the brown shy quiet people who are dead intended
Religion or magic, or made their tracings
In the idleness of art; but over the division of years these careful
Signs-manual are now like a sealed message
Saying: "Look: we also were human; we had hands, not paws. All hail
You people with cleverer hands, our supplanters
In the beautiful country: enjoy her a season, her beauty, and come down
And be supplanted; for you also are human."
— Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)
Church Creek also has outstanding Native American cultural values. Archeological studies of rock shelters along the creek show that the area was a refuge for the Esselen Tribe following the arrival of Spanish Missionaries. Church Creek's incredible sandstone formations — remnants of a seafloor formed millions of years ago — create large overhangs, many of which were used by the Tribe as shelters. Most notably, a cave overlooking Church Creek has "hand" rock paintings estimated to be hundreds of years old. The cave and its rock paintings were celebrated in Robinson Jeffer's poem, "Hands."
Recreation — Both creeks provides popular loop trail connections to routes leading to the Big Sur and Carmel Rivers.
Most of Tassajara Creek flows through public lands. There is one small private inholding encompassing the Tassajara Zen Center. Designation would not affect access to or use of the Zen Center. Church Creek has one private inholding that consists of the Bruce Church Ranch. Designation would not affect access to the ranch or its operations.
|Segment 1||Source in the Ventana Wilderness to Tassajara Hot Springs boundary||6.5 miles||Wild|
|Segment 2||Creek segment within the Tassajara Hot Springs private property boundary||1 mile||Recreational|
|Segment 3||Tassajara Hot Springs boundary to the Arroyo Seco River confluence||3.5 miles||Wild|
|Segment 1||Source to the confluence with the unnamed tributary flowing in from the north in sec. 13, T19S, R3E||1.2 miles||Wild|
|Segment 2||Unnamed tributary confluence in sec. 13 to the confluence of the unnamed tributary flowing in from the east in sec. 24, T19S, R3E||1 mile||Recreational|
|Segment 3||Unnamed tributary confluence in sec. 24 to the confluence with Tassajara Creek||2.36 miles||Wild|