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.