Big news for the Chetco
On Friday, July 26, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its approval of a mineral withdrawal for 17 miles of the Chetco River in southwest Oregon, saving world-class salmon and steelhead runs. The Chetco River was listed as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2010, and has been continued to be a priority for American Rivers’ River Protection Team. This was a close call, as the existing withdrawal was set to expire on August 1!
The mineral withdrawal protects 5,610 acres of National Forest land along the Wild and Scenic Chetco River from mining for five years, while Congress considers permanent protection for the river in the Oregon Treasures Act.
The mineral withdrawal was at the request of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in aid of the legislation introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR). The legislation, which is based on the agency’s recommendations, will provide a higher level of protection for the Chetco’s exceptionally clear waters, wild salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout habitat, and the outstanding recreation these nationally outstanding values provide.
Some of the best salmon and steelhead habitat on the West Coast is now temporarily protected from mining, but Congress still has to make the withdrawal permanent.
Meanwhile, the nearby Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks do not have this protection in place. American Rivers highlighted these creeks on our list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® this year due to the threat of mining. Without some action, this beautiful botanical gem will be ruined for future hikers, paddlers, fishermen, and other outdoor enthusiasts.