Recreational enthusiasts and anglers applauded the U.S Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for heeding the calls of Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, as well as California Rep. Jared Huffman to establish a temporary ban on mining that will protect the threatened wild and scenic Illinois, Rogue and Smith rivers, and their tributaries.
In February, these legislators introduced bills to permanently protect these prized rivers from new mining claims. This week, the Department of Interior, acting on behalf of the USFS and BLM, established a process to consider public input on their plans for a temporary ban on mining while Congress considers legislation to protect the area.
“The Wild Rivers Coast in Southwestern Oregon is home to a continuously growing recreation economy,” said Dave Lacey, Gold Beach resident and owner of Southcoast Tours LLC. “We live here, work here and raise our families here. These proposed strip mines are the largest threat to these waterways and to the people who depend on them.”
The Illinois and Rogue rivers in Oregon, and California’s Smith River are known for their healthy salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout runs. Furthermore, they are world-renowned for their plant biodiversity. However, proposed nickel mining in these rivers’ headwaters threatens downstream habitat vital to the entire ecosystem, especially to fish and flora. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified metal mining as the largest toxic polluter in the United States. Strip mining, road construction and metal processing could have lasting negative impacts on these rivers, their fish and wildlife and the people who use them.
“Rivers provide us with cold, clean drinking water and endless recreational opportunities, yet some of our very best streams and rivers in southern Oregon are threatened by industrial strip mining,” said Dean Finnerty of Trout Unlimited. “The current drought we all find ourselves in just serves to heighten the value of these places to everyone in southern Oregon and northern California.”
Please see the official delegation press release here: http://defazio.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/defazio-huffman-wyden-merkley-praise-temporary-ban-on-mining-projects-in