Ask the Secretary of Interior to Protect the Chetco River
The Wild and Scenic Chetco River is renowned for its world-class salmon and steelhead runs, and crystal clear water. However, it is still vulnerable to mining thanks to the General Mining Law of 1872 – which gives mining precedence over all other uses. Out of concern for the impact that this mining could have on this special place, American Rivers listed the Chetco as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2010.
Recently, the U.S. Forest Service recommended that the Interior Department protect about 17 miles of the river by withdrawing it from mining for the next five years to give Congress time to pass more lasting protection via the Chetco River Protection Act.
There are five main steps that must happen in order to take advantage of this unique opportunity to protect almost the entire length of the river. They are:
- U.S. Forest Service recommends extending the temporary mining withdrawal for another 5 years. (DONE! YES!)
- U.S. Bureau of Land Management recommends extending the temporary mining withdrawal for another 5 years. (Hopefully soon…)
- Secretary of Interior approves extending the temporary mining withdrawal for another 5 years. (Ask the Secretary to do this TODAY!)
- Oregon Congressional delegation must introduce legislation instituting a permanent ban on new mining claims in the Chetco River. (Hopefully soon…)
- Congress must pass the bill instituting a permanent ban on new mining claims the Chetco River. (Ultimate goal.)
In 2011, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Peter DeFazio introduced legislation to permanently ban new claims for suction-dredge mining in the Chetco Basin. This bill would have made the Forest Service’s recommendation permanent. Now the Secretary of the Interior must buy some more time for these Members of Congress to pass a bill in the new Congress.
The clock is ticking! If the Interior Secretary doesn’t act soon the river will be open to mining once again.
Enjoy these beautiful photos of the Chetco River:
All photos courtesy of Northwest Rafting Company