Measures will designate wilderness and wild and scenic rivers in Oregon and honor legendary stewards of the North Umpqua River
David Moryc, American Rivers, 503-307-1137
Joseph Vaile, KS Wild, 541-488-5789
Greg Haller, Pacific Rivers, 208-790-4105
Portland, OR (March 12, 2019) – The President today signed into law the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, a public lands package that includes the Oregon Wildlands Act (S. 1548) and the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act (S. 513/H.R. 1308).
The legislation adds more than 1.3 million acres of public land to the National Wilderness Preservation System, and 621 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It also includes dozens of other bipartisan public lands measures that would conserve some of our nation’s wildest lands and rivers. The Natural Resources Management Act passed the U.S. Senate on February 12, 2019, and the U.S. House of Representatives on February 26, 2019.
"The Oregon Wildlands Act is a huge win for southern Oregon and the Rogue River!” said Pete Wallstrom, owner of Momentum River Expeditions. “The Rogue is one of the central engines of the growing tourism and recreation economy in Southern Oregon. Common sense and well thought out protections like these are important for our environment and for creating healthy and sustainable rural economies. Thanks to everyone involved including senators Wyden and Merkley and Representative DeFazio! "
The signing of this bill into law is the culmination of years of effort to protect some of Oregon’s most unique lands and rivers treasured by Oregonians as sources of clean drinking water, for their economic benefits derived from outdoor recreation, and for their wilderness character that provides a unique backcountry experience. There is broad public support from Oregonians across the state, including hunters and anglers, business owners, veterans, community leaders, and conservationists.
“Without protected watersheds and clean water, neither the wild landscapes nor our craft brewing industry could thrive,” said Ross Putnam, Co-Founder and General Manager, Base Camp Brewing. “We are lucky to have Oregon leaders that appreciate the value of outdoor recreation and craft beer to the state economy.”
The Oregon Wildlands Act designates the approximately 30,000-acre Devil’s Staircase Wilderness in the Oregon Coast Range northeast of Reedsport. It also safeguards 311 miles of rivers, including nearly 256 miles as Wild and Scenic Rivers, like the Molalla and Elk Rivers and tributaries to the lower Rogue River. The bill also permanently withdraws portions of the salmon-rich Chetco River, the drinking water source for the City of Brookings, from mining claims.
John Atkins, president of the Molalla River Alliance, added, “As a Vietnam War veteran, there is no better therapy than enjoying the solace of nature while drifting a fly across the current of a wild river. I am deeply grateful to our nation’s leaders for their work to ensure that the veterans and their families who come after me have the same opportunity. Approval of the Oregon Wildlands Act after so many years of federal inaction is a landmark bipartisan achievement.”
The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Act permanently safeguards an area in the North Umpqua basin that contains some of the best wild steelhead spawning areas in the Pacific Northwest and honor Frank Moore, a World War II veteran, and his wife of over 70 years, who are both legendary stewards of the North Umpqua.
“I’m very proud to have mine and my wife’s name associated with this bill. It’s important that we prioritize our land management policy to put the resources and our wild salmon and steelhead first. That’s the least we can do to ensure these treasured lands and fish will be around for future generations,” said Frank Moore, the namesake of the legislation.
Western Oregon boasts some of the most biologically diverse and undeveloped lands in the nation. From free-flowing rivers teeming with salmon to deep ancient forests to plants seen nowhere else on the planet, the area offers people a place to relax and listen to hidden waterfalls, and raft and fish in wild rivers.
Dan Courtney, Chairman of the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians, said: “The Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians applauds the passage of the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area. Our tribe wants nothing more than a healthy Oregon, with clean rivers and a rich biodiversity of our native fish populations. This special designation will help achieve that. We thank Senators Wyden, Merkley and Representatives DeFazio and Walden for all of their efforts here. We also thank Frank and Jeanne Moore for a lifetime of work to bettering our state and southern Oregon.”
Passage of these bills will be a boon to local economies. Visitors from across the country and around the globe come to explore and enjoy Western Oregon’s outstanding fishing, rafting, hiking, and other outdoor recreation opportunities. The Outdoor Industry Association recently found that outdoor recreation in Oregon generates $16.4 billion in consumer spending, 172,000 jobs, $5.1 billion in wages and salaries and $749 million in state and local tax revenue.
“KEEN is thrilled that this bipartisan public lands bill, with important protections for special places and improved recreation access in our home state of Oregon and so many places across the country, is now officially the law of the land,” said Erik Burbank, Global GM for Outdoor, Kids & Lifestyle, KEEN, Inc. “Access to public lands and recreation is vital to the health and wellness of all people, and with programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Every Kid Outdoors Act, even more people will have those opportunities.”
The protections that will now be afforded to the area include Wild and Scenic River and Wilderness designations that specifically allow for continued access, hunting, and fishing. Nothing in this bill curtails fighting wildfire or fuels reduction.
Both measures build on a rich legacy of river and wilderness conservation in Oregon. Oregonians hope to continue building on this legacy by protecting more of Oregon’s spectacular natural treasures.
Hearing on Safe Waters Act of 2019 (HB 2656)
House Committee on Energy and Environment
March 12, 2019, 1:00pm
Hearing Room HR D
Portlanders are rightly proud of their water supply, which produces some of the cleanest drinking water in the United States. It’s also one of the most protected watersheds in the country. The protections in place for the Bull Run ensure it will remain clean and plentiful, protected from the effects of climate change for generations of Portlanders to come. Unfortunately, many Oregonians, especially those living in rural coastal communities, don’t enjoy such protection for their drinking water. Their water comes from watersheds that are heavily logged, roaded, and sprayed with harmful chemicals. These activities degrade water supplies with sediment, chemical and thermal pollution, elevating the risk of forest fire, flooding, landslides and toxic algae blooms. Climate change will make things worse.
Why does this inequity exist? Because Wall Street-owned timber companies pay big money to make sure the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) stays just like it is - the weakest forest practices law on the west coast (Read the full Oregonian story here).
All Oregonians deserve the right to clean drinking water, resilient to the effects of climate change, not just Portlanders!
Please come help pass the Safe Waters Act and ensure a clean water future for Oregonians!
The House Committee on Energy and Environment has scheduled a hearing on the Safe Waters Act (HB 2656) for March 12 at 1pm, a bill that Pacific Rivers and Center for Sustainable Economy crafted to require timberland owners to manage their forestlands in a manner that will help produce clean drinking water for communities downstream.
The bill targets the forest management activities in Drinking Water Source Areas that impact drinking water: clearcut logging, roads, and the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
The Safe Waters Act will prohibit clearcut logging, with exceptions for ecological forestry or forest carbon storage projects. It will prohibit the application of pesticides and herbicides, keeping these harmful substances out of the water our kids drink.
The Safe Waters Act: Less Treatment = Lower Cost and Cleaner, Healthier Water!
Forest roads winding through industrial tree plantations are the leading source of sediment pollution in streams. Clearcut logging on steep slopes are prone to erode, especially during heavy winter rains. When streams that supply drinking water run like chocolate milk, treatment plants must increase their use of chemicals to clean the water and make it safe to drink. But using more chlorine can actually make water unsafe to drink because cancer causing chemicals are formed when chlorine comes into contact with dirty water. In fact, the drinking water of some Oregon communities routinely exceeds safe levels and residents must use bottled water.
The Safe Waters Act will require timberland owners to identify and fix or remove problem roads. Eliminating clearcuts on erodible soils will minimize the risk of landslides. Together, these measures will reduce sediment pollution, decreasing the need for chemicals, lowering the cost of treatment, and reducing the need for communities to fund costly upgrades of their treatment plants. The end result will be cleaner, healthier and less expensive water!
The Safe Waters Act is good for Fish and Wildlife too!
The type of changes needed to protect drinking water will not only help people, they will help struggling fish and wildlife populations too, which need more natural forest cover (as opposed to tree plantations) to provide the habitats they need to thrive in a changing climate.
The Safe Waters Act restores the balance between profits and protection
Over half of the private timberlands in Oregon are owned by huge multinational companies that enjoy some of the lowest tax rates and weakest conservation requirements on the West Coast. The type of changes envisioned by the Safe Waters Act will allow the timber industry to remain profitable while protecting our most precious life-source: clean water.
HB 2656: Oregon Safe Waters Act of 2019
What the Safe Waters Act does:
We hope you'll join us next Tuesday in Salem to tell the House Committee on Energy and Environment to protect all Oregonians' water from these harmful practices.
What: Hearing on Safe Waters Act of 2019 (HB 2656)
Who: House Committee on Energy and Environment
When: March 12, 2019, 1:00pm
Where: Hearing Room D (Map)
RSVP HERE if you can make it!