Court Hits Pause on Termination of Harmful Hatchery ProgramODFW Rolls the Dice on Wild Fish Safety
PORTLAND, Ore – On May 18, 2022, a Marion County Circuit Court judge granted a preliminary
injunction that pauses the elimination of the Rock Creek Hatchery summer steelhead program pending
the Court’s ultimate decision on the merits of the case. The injunction also directs the Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to release hatchery summer steelhead smolts this year to
prevent alleged harm to the plaintiffs while the case proceeds. The judge directed the plaintiffs and
ODFW to develop a plan to release these smolts in a holistic, smart, and wild fish-safe manner. The
judge explained that such a plan could result in the release of 20,000 smolts or some other figure. The
plan the parties developed, and that ODFW is currently implementing, is anything but safe or smart for
On May 20 th , ODFW opened the hatchery exit gates for 78,000 juvenile steelhead. ODFW did this despite
the fact it recommended to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on April 22, 2022, that it release
no more than 30,000 hatchery smolts per year because releasing more than that would exceed risk
management measures to protect wild North Umpqua summer steelhead. It is unclear why ODFW has
more than doubled the hatchery release since their April recommendation. It makes no sense.
Despite the Court’s order to release “smolts,” ODFW is likely releasing hatchery steelhead that are
transitioning back to the parr life stage. These hatchery fish are derived from the wild population, which
hits its peak outmigration to the ocean in March and April. Therefore, these fish have already passed
their window of physiological preparation for smolting and will likely residualize as parr in the North
Umpqua River. As a result, these hatchery fish will compete for food and habitat with wild steelhead
parr, many of which are the offspring of the lowest return of wild North Umpqua summer steelhead
since records began in 1946.
Based on ODFW’s own declarations, it is also unclear if these hatchery steelhead have even reached size
targets that ODFW associates with reduced residualization. According to ODFW, these fish are smaller
than is typical for this time of year.
Through these actions, ODFW is putting all the risk of its failing hatchery program on the backs of wild
North Umpqua summer steelhead, one of the most cherished wild steelhead populations on Earth.
“[T]his is nothing more than an ill-advised ecological Hail Mary, a last second shot at the basket with
almost no chance of scoring. The reality is that there is no cost to these types of wild haymakers in
sports, but there is in ecology and biology, because the unfit and undersized smolts will not simply go
away when the clock hits double zeros,” says John McMillan, Science Director for The Conservation
The North Umpqua Coalition will continue to fight to uphold the Commission’s correct and lawful
decision based on the best-available science to eliminate the Rock Creek Hatchery summer steelhead
program, which has put wild North Umpqua steelhead at risk for decades. Although the Court denied
the Coalition’s motion to intervene as a named party to the case, the Court is allowing the Coalition to
participate by offering arguments the court may want to consider before making their ruling. This status
allows the Coalition to weigh in on arguments to dismiss the plaintiffs’ legal challenge.
“For over a half century the Steamboaters, starting with folks like Frank Moore, have worked to protect
and conserve the North Umpqua’s iconic run of wild summer steelhead. Joined by the members of
North Umpqua Coalition, we will continue to push for the right decision to conserve these fish for future
generations,” said Kirk Blaine, President of the Steamboaters and Southern Oregon Regional
Coordinator for Native Fish Society.
Regional Conservation Groups Resolve Litigation Over Water Quality Impacts Caused by the Hells Canyon Complex
For Immediate Release
September 2, 2021
Greg Haller, Pacific Rivers: firstname.lastname@example.org and (208) 790-4105
Nic Nelson, Idaho Rivers United: email@example.com and (208) 343-7481
Regional Conservation Groups Resolve Litigation Over Water Quality Impacts Caused by the Hells Canyon Complex
The settlement forces the state of Oregon to develop a plan to limit dangerous methylmercury pollution and accelerate critical remediation of water temperature impacts at the Hells Canyon Complex on the Snake River.
(Portland, OR) Idaho Rivers United, Pacific Rivers and the State of Oregon signed a settlement agreement that resolves litigation over persistent water pollution and temperature impacts caused by the three-dam Hells Canyon Complex on the Snake River. The dams are owned by Idaho Power Company. This settlement represents one of many steps needed to address water quality, human health, and salmon recovery in the Snake River Basin.
The two conservation groups, represented by attorneys from Gonzaga University Legal Services in Spokane, brought their claims under the authority of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which addresses water quality at projects requiring a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to operate. The case was brought against the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to ensure the agency would require Idaho Power Company to meet its obligations to state water quality standards at the dams. The Nez Perce Tribe, which filed a separate appeal concerning these same issues, also signed the settlement agreement.
Water quality in the Snake River has been severely degraded from high levels of nutrient runoff from agricultural lands in the upper portion of the basin. The warm, nutrient-rich water flows into the reservoir impounded by Brownlee Dam, the largest and furthest upstream of the three dams. As these nutrients decay in the reservoir, methylmercury (a type of toxic, organic mercury) is formed and moves up the food chain, accumulating in the bodies of resident fish species, posing a serious health threat to anyone consuming them. The settlement will require Oregon and Idaho Power to each invest three quarters of a million dollars to develop a plan to limit the amount of methylmercury in the impoundments, and subsequently sent downstream, of the Hells Canyon Complex. Under the agreement, this work must be completed by 2023.
The Hells Canyon Complex was built without fish passage, which eliminated access to the primary spawning grounds of Fall Chinook, and other native species that once filled southern Idaho and spawned as far upstream as northern Nevada. The Complex has also negatively impacted water temperatures in the Snake River since the massive dams were completed in the 1960s. Because of how the dams are operated, the downstream flows are substantially warmer in the fall, and colder in the spring, than they would have naturally been before the dams were built.
Water temperatures have critical implications for salmon, especially Fall Chinook, and other natives species downstream of the Project. High water temperatures become lethal to salmonids during particularly hot summers like the region has experienced in 2021. The settlement accelerates the required temperature monitoring and implements a temperature threshold that cannot be exceeded two years in a row without automatically requiring new infrastructure investments and dam operations to limit harmful water temperatures during key salmon spawning and migration seasons.
Greg Haller, Executive Director of Pacific Rivers: “As a result of this litigation, water quality will improve in the Snake River much sooner than it would have otherwise. The Hells Canyon Complex has significant impacts on Snake River salmon and steelhead and these water temperature improvements are a critical step forward for the watershed.”
Nic Nelson, Executive Director of Idaho Rivers United: “The Snake River has been dubbed America’s Most Endangered River, and this settlement will help to alleviate pollutant issues through arguably the most iconic stretch of this great river. While much still needs to be addressed upstream, this will provide an important framework for tackling pollutant issues throughout the entire Snake River system.”
Rick Eichstaedt, Attorney for Gonzaga University Legal Services: “This settlement creates a concrete plan to address significant water quality issues impacting salmon and steelhead survival in the Snake River. While nothing can fully mitigate the impacts of these dams, the terms of this settlement will help ensure that the long-term operations of the three dams in Hells Canyon will be partially mitigated by addressing temperature and methylmercury impacts.”
Conservationists Urge the Biden Administration to Reinvigorate Columbia River Treaty Negotiations by Increasing Transparency and Regional Collaboration for Climate Resilience and Salmon Recovery
U.S. Treaty Conservation Caucus
For Immediate Release: June 30, 2021
Greg Haller, Pacific Rivers: firstname.lastname@example.org and (208) 790–4105.
Joseph Bogaard, Save Our wild Salmon: email@example.com and (206) 300-1003.
(Portland, Oregon) While much of the Pacific Northwest is suffering under record-breaking heat and expanding drought, a coalition of leading conservation, civic and faith organizations has sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on the Biden Administration to redouble efforts to modernize the U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty by prioritizing the health of the river and improving the negotiation process to be more transparent and inclusive. They sent a companion letter to leaders in Canada commending their approach to treaty negotiations.
The 57-year-old treaty authorized the construction of three dams in the Canadian portion of the Columbia River, and allowed the construction of Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in Montana. Since 1964, the treaty has governed hydropower and flood risk operations exclusively. Conservation and faith organizations, tribes, and First Nations have called for ecosystem function to be an additional, primary purpose of a new, modernized treaty.
Treaty negotiations between the two nations began in 2018, but the coalition argues the U.S. process has been opaque and un-inclusive. In contrast, the Canadian government includes First Nations in the negotiations and regularly provides detailed information to the public.
Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Treaty Conservation Caucus, Greg Haller, the Executive Director of Pacific Rivers, explains: “The Biden Administration can reinvigorate negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty by addressing important environmental and social justice issues, and employing an inclusive and transparent approach to negotiations and treaty implementation.”
Joseph Bogaard, Executive Director of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, adds: “The Canadians are providing a helpful blueprint the U.S. can, and should, emulate. Greater transparency and inclusiveness will lead to better outcomes for our communities, the river, and its struggling fish and wildlife populations.”
The coalition has communicated a series of recommendations for the Biden Administration, including adding a representative for ecosystem function in treaty implementation; renewing and improving engagement with communities in the basin; and seeking, and considering, requests and proposals from the fifteen tribes in the U.S. portion of the Columbia River Basin.
The letters to Secretary of State Blinken and Canadian leadership, along with other resources and information on the Columbia River Treaty, are available at the Pacific Rivers website: www.pacificrivers.org/columbia-river-treaty.html.
U.S. Treaty Conservation Caucus is a broad coalition of advocates and nonprofit organizations working to represent forward-looking and restorative conservation, clean energy, civic, faith, fishing, and economic efforts and outcomes in the Columbia River Basin. The coalition consists of representatives from American Rivers, Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Earth Ministry, League of Women Voters of the United States, Pacific Rivers, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, Sierra Club, and WaterWatch of Oregon.
For more information, please contact Greg Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org and (208) 790-4105 or Joseph Bogaard at email@example.com and (206)300-1003.
Protecting Our Treasures: The New Film From Pacific Rivers Celebrates Senator Ron Wyden’s River Democracy Act
(Portland, OR) Launched on the first day of National Rivers Month, Pacific River’s inspiring new video River Democracy celebrates Senator Ron Wyden’s River Democracy Act, pending legislation that would add nearly 4700 miles of river segments nominated by our fellow Oregonians to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
These new designations build upon Senator Wyden’s life-long commitment to protecting Oregon’s free-flowing rivers and will include 800 segments of watersheds throughout every region of the state. These new Wild and Scenic Rivers will permanently protect our clean water and native species, improve fire resiliency, honor Tribal co-management, guarantee ongoing recreational and economic opportunity, and firmly establish Oregon as the country’s undisputed leader in permanent river protection.
As Senator Wyden explains in our video, his bill is about protecting Oregon’s treasures and, on our watch, truly doing something meaningful for the future of all our kids and grandkids.
Greg Haller, Pacific Rivers’ Executive Director, explains: “Senator Wyden has been a leader for Oregon’s watersheds since his days as a Congressman. Pacific Rivers is proud to have worked closely with him since the 1988 Oregon Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which to this day remains the largest river protection act within the Lower 48. This new legislation builds and expands on that incredible legacy and will truly make Oregon the Wild and Scenic Rivers capital of the world.”
Our new video, River Democracy, will be released to the public on June 1st, the first day of National Rivers Month. Viewers can connect to the video at our homepage and through our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at: @pacificrivers
The New Film From Pacific Rivers Celebrates the Collaboration Between the Nez Perce Tribe and the Wolfe Ranch to Restore Salmon in Oregon’s Lostine River
(Portland, OR) Lostine, the new short film from Pacific Rivers highlights the powerful story of collaboration and salmon recovery in Northeast Oregon’s Lostine River and points towards the urgent need and opportunity to breach four federal dams on the lower Snake River to restore the basin’s salmon runs before it is too late. Lostine will be released online on Tuesday, April 21 at Pacific River’s homepage: www.pacificrivers.org
By the late 1990s, the Chinook Salmon of Northeast Oregon’s Lostine River were nearly gone. Some years fewer than 30 adult salmon returned to spawn. Historical overharvest, loss of fish during their migration through the large hydropower dams on the Lower Columbia and Snake Rivers, and extensive irrigation water drawdowns had all taken their toll on salmon numbers. Chinook Salmon have been a sacred bedrock of the Nez Perce Tribe’s traditional food supply and culture for millenia. Unwilling to lose these fish, the Tribe established a small conservation hatchery program to preserve the unique genetic lineage of the Lostine River’s spring/summer Chinook Salmon.
Significantly, the weir sits near the confluence of the Lostine and Wallowa Rivers, a location home to Nez Perce summer salmon fishing camps since time immemorial. Today this land is permanently protected by the Wolfe Farm Conservation Easement, which consists of over three miles of healthy river habitat, 318 acres of farmland, and 145 acres of connected wetlands. The conservation easements were established by the Wallowa Land Trust and made possible by the generosity of the landowners, Woody and Megan Wolfe. Important improvements to irrigation efficiency and water allocation by local farmers has meant that crucial volumes of cold, clean water have been restored to the Lostine River throughout the year to provide the flows and temperatures required by salmon.
As a result of these inspiring efforts and collaboration, as many as 2000 Chinook Salmon now return annually to the Lostine River and these resilient fish once again support limited sport and traditional tribal fisheries. But, while impressive, these numbers are far below what the habitat could support.
Gregory Haller, the Executive Director of Pacific Rivers explains: “We are inspired by the years of hard work and partnership between the Nez Perce Tribe and the Wolfe Ranch. Together, they are providing a ray of hope for this amazing river’s struggling spring/summer Chinook salmon. We wanted to tell the story of this collaboration and we hope their dedication and success isn’t lost on the region’s elected officials because, ultimately, the long-term opportunity for salmon to thrive in this watershed is dependent on our leaders taking action to restore a free-flowing lower Snake River.”
The mission of Pacific Rivers is to protect and restore the watershed ecosystems of the West to ensure river health, biodiversity and clean water for present and future generations. We are proud to share the story of the Lostine River and appreciate the work and generosity of the Nez Perce Tribe, Woody and Megan Wolfe, and the Water Foundation for making it possible.
Tester in Bozeman to Introduce Montana Headwaters Legacy Act on the Banks of the Gallatin River
New legislation will permanently protect 336 miles of rivers across Southwestern Montana; Most significant wild and scenic river designation in state in nearly 45 years
(Bozeman, Mont.) – On the banks of the Gallatin River, U.S. Senator Jon Tester will introduce his Montana Headwaters Legacy Act TOMORROW, TUESDAY, October 27th at 1:30 pm MT alongside conservation advocates and representatives from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, American Rivers, and American Whitewaters.
Tester’s legislation will designate 336 miles of rivers across Southwestern Montana—most of which are in or near the Custer-Gallatin and the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests—as wild and scenic, providing permanent protections for iconic recreational rivers including the Smith and the Madison. This would be the most significant wild and scenic river designation in Montana in nearly 45 years.
On anniversary of Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, Senator asks fellow Oregonians to nominate new rivers and streams for protection
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today announced he is taking nominations from Oregonians through Jan. 20, 2020 for rivers in the state that deserve addition to the national Wild and Scenic Rivers list.
“Whether you are a whitewater rafter, an angler or simply an Oregonian who believes strongly in protecting the river or stream that provides safe drinking water to your community, I want to hear from you,” Wyden wrote in an open letter to Oregonians seeking river nominations for new wild-and-scenic river legislation he plans to introduce . “Now is your chance, once again, to speak up for your favorite rivers and highlight the outstanding values that make each river worthy of protection.”
Submissions can be sent through Jan. 20, 2020 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With today marking the 51st anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, Wyden noted the proposed new rivers that would be part of his upcoming Wild and Scenic Rivers legislation builds on legislation included in what Congress passed in February that added more than 250 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers in Oregon.
Wyden said he is proud Oregon now has 2,173 miles designated in the Wild and Scenic Rivers system, but that the total remains a small fraction of Oregon’s 110,994 miles of major rivers and streams.
He said Outdoor Recreation Industry statistics show that recreation supports 172,000 jobs in Oregon and generates $16.4 billion in economic activity statewide.
Here’s a sampling of what Oregonians are saying about Wyden’s call for wild-and-scenic river nominations:
Clatsop County Commissioner Kathleen Sullivan:
"Oregon's rivers are critical to the health of our communities and our way of life. I applaud Senator Wyden's efforts to protect our rivers for future generations."
Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson:
"I wholeheartedly support Senator Wyden's effort to consider more Wild and Scenic River designations for Oregon. This will be a boon to our outdoor recreation economy as well as to the health of salmon and steelhead runs and clean drinking water."
Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla
“I grew up where the Siletz River meets the Pacific Ocean, and I farm the Willamette River’s floodplain. Salmon are in my blood. Water is our farm’s lifeblood. I am grateful that Oregon’s Senator Wyden is working to protect more rivers, so that our community can have salmon, have water, have life
State Rep. Pam Marsh
"Wild and Scenic Rivers are the heart and soul of southern Oregon's recreation economy. Not only do they give our communities clean water, they bring people from all over the world that spend money that ripples throughout our economy. Thank you to Senator Wyden for stepping up to protect a legacy of clean water and a strong recreation economy.”
Ninkasi Brewing Company co-founders Nikos Ridge and Jamie Floyd
“Protected water sources are a critical ingredient for fine craft beer, and they help drive the recreation industry in our state. Ninkasi Brewing Company is grateful for Senator Wyden’s leadership around safeguarding Oregon’s iconic rivers, and it is clear why he has been dubbed the Wild and Scenic Senator.”
Chad Brown , U.S. Navy Veteran; Founder and President, Soul River Inc.
“Senator Wyden’s leadership to champion and protect Oregon’s rivers is an affirmative action! A warrior mission for veterans and our next generation to have the opportunity to benefit from what nature provides our souls. Thank you Senator Wyden for your strength to protect Oregon’s Wild and Scenic Rivers for us all.”
Patrick Kruse, Founder and R&D Director, Ruffwear
“Ruffwear is based in Bend, Oregon, because of its access to wild places. Many of our employees and customers spend time kayaking, rafting, and fishing, and we consider Oregon’s rivers as part of who we are. The Deschutes River flows right through Bend, a natural icon of our town’s culture and integral to its economy. We applaud Senator Wyden’s effort to add Wild and Scenic Rivers to our great state, and appreciate his thoughtful nomination process to get there.”
Zach Collier, Owner of NW Rafting Co:
“I appreciate Senator Wyden’s leadership and relentless dedication to protecting the rivers of Oregon. The Wild and Scenic River protections he has championed are critical for my outfitting business and Oregon’s recreation economy.”
Amy Stuart, Crook County, retired Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist:
"As a retired fisheries biologist of 31 years, I know that protecting rivers is key to maintaining healthy fish populations. I'm encouraged to see Senator Wyden working to better protect Oregon's rivers and fish."
Chris Daughters, owner of the the Caddis Fly Angling Shop, Eugene:
“As the owner of the Caddis Fly Angling Shop in Eugene, my family’s livelihood depends on Oregon’s rivers and the fish that live in them. Salmon, trout, and steelhead all need cold, clean water to thrive, and protection from dams, development, and mining is crucial if we hope to preserve the outstanding fishing opportunities we have in this state. Senator Wyden’s call for public nominations for new Wild and Scenic Rivers is a gift to both current and future generations of Oregonians and will help ensure that our state remains a destination for anglers, hunters, hikers, and boaters for many years to come.”
Erik Fernandez, Oregon Wild, Bend
“Oregon Wild members across the state applaud Senator Wyden’s effort to consider protection of additional Wild and Scenic Rivers. It’s good news for clean drinking water, fish and wildlife, and recreation.”
Dave Lacey, Owner of South Coast Tours
“South Coast Tours and its guides support the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and all the conservation minded visitors that those designations bring to the south coast of Oregon. We value our wild rivers so much that we call the southern Oregon coast ‘The Wild Rivers Coast’ where there are more Wild and Scenic Rivers concentrated than anywhere else in the lower 48. Thank you Senator Wyden - we support further designations and rely on those wild river experiences to make us competitive in the tourism industry.”
Michael LaLonde, President & CEO Deschutes Brewery
“We take pride in our namesake, the Deschutes River, and continue to do what we can to respect and honor it. Protected, free flowing rivers in Oregon sustain our business and fulfill our employees. We applaud Senator Wyden’s effort to add more iconic and protected Wild and Scenic River designations to our home state.”
A copy of the letter is available here.
A web version of this release is available here.
Pacific Rivers files suit against Oregon over the issuing water quality certification for the Hells Canyon Complex
Pacific Rivers, Idaho Rivers United File Petition Challenging Clean Water Act Certification for the Hells Canyon Complex by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Greg Haller, Pacific Rivers, (503) 228-3555, (208) 790-4105, email@example.com Nic Nelson, Idaho Rivers United, (208) 343-7481, firstname.lastname@example.org
Portland, OR (July 22, 2019) Today, conservation groups Pacific Rivers and Idaho Rivers United filed a petition in Multnomah County challenging the issuance of water quality certification under section 401 of the Clean Water Act by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for the Hells Canyon Complex. The three dams, owned and operated by Idaho Power Company, are located on the reach of the Snake River that forms the border of Oregon and Idaho. In their complaint, the conservation groups argue that DEQ failed to follow the requirements of state and federal law when they certified the dams will meet water quality standards for temperature and mercury. Additionally, the groups say the recent settlement agreement between Oregon and Idaho Power regarding fish passage fails to comply with the requirements of Oregon’s fish passage law.
Idaho Power Company is seeking a new fifty-year license for the dams from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and water quality certification by Oregon and Idaho is necessary component before FERC can issue the new license.
“The Hells Canyon Complex has an enormous impact on water quality and salmon populations in the Snake River, said Greg Haller, Executive Director of Pacific Rivers. The actions proposed by Idaho Power, and certified by DEQ, are far too speculative to ensure compliance with important water quality standards. It’s a leap of faith that salmon can’t afford to take.”
Brownlee Reservoir is a popular fishery but anglers are warned not to consume fish they catch due to the high levels of mercury contained in their flesh.
“Idaho’s rivers are one of the defining hallmarks of our State and the core of protecting all that they provide is water quality”, said Nic Nelson, Executive Director of Idaho Rivers United. “Idaho Power has failed to protect the rights of Idahoans in sustaining the important fisheries of the Snake through the proposed actions on the dams it operates. Compliance with water quality standards is not optional, and we must take action to preserve the integrity of this river system.”
Salmon once swam far upriver of the dams deep into Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. Today, however, the dams block fish passage for all species, eliminating important spawning habitat and fisheries in all three states.
Pacific Rivers and Idaho Rivers United are represented by the Environmental and Land Use Clinic of University Legal Assistance at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington.
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!