Holiday Spirit on the Rogue

Rogue River | Kavita Heyn, American Rivers

Well it’s that time of year again and Santa is double checking his list to see who has been naughty and nice.

I want to help Santa out a little and recommend that a number of Oregon Congressman and Senators make the nice list. Congressmen DeFazio, Schrader and Blumenauer have to make the nice list after the November 2011i ntroduction of H.R.3436, expanding Wild & Scenic and Wilderness protection on the Rogue River. Not to be outdone, the Congressman’s distinguished colleagues, Senators Wyden and Merkley introduced a similar bill S.2001 in December of 2011, also extending protections on the Rogue River. Such actions certainly should guarantee they don’t end up with a lump of coal in their stockings.

The Rogue River was one of the eight inaugural rivers protected with the introduction of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act in 1968. Only two years earlier the holiday of Kwanza first celebrated the seven principles of African heritage comprising Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason. Similarly, the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act stems from notions of reason and tradition. The act’s language says it best, stating the most outstanding rivers are “protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.” It seems truly reasonable to protect clean water, and in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, to protect migrating salmon and their economic, ecological and traditional cultural roles.

In the spirit of Hanukah, which commemorates the rededication of a holy temple, this year we can celebrate a renewed commitment to protecting a special place in southwest Oregon. How special is this place? Well, I think Beverly Moore, owner of Riverhouse Camp Lodge, captured it in saying “Since the old days of Zane Grey fishing on the river in the 1920’s, people have traveled from all over the world to enjoy the Rogue River.”

Both bills add 93 new miles of Wild & Scenic protection and nearly 60,000 additional acres of Wilderness. For over three years the Oregon congressional delegation has worked with local business owners, conservationists, timber organizations, fisherman, rafters and community members to craft a common sense proposal for protection of the Rogue River canyon. Dave Strahan, a life-long local resident and outdoor recreation sales professional, shared his appreciation for the expanded protection saying that “Not only does this help salmon, but this legislation is imperative to the outdoor recreation economy of southern Oregon.” Pete Wallstrom, owner of Momentum River Expeditions, echoed these sentiments stating the legislation “would be a win for our local long term economy, a win for the health of the Rogue River, and a great example of the power of a community working together.”

While introducing these bills is a great step to increase protection on this iconic river there is more work to be done. If you are on facebook, join nearly 15,000 other people and like the Rogue River. You can also learn more and show your support by signing a petition on the Wild Rogue Alliance webpage.

Happy holidays and a sincere thank you to Congressmen DeFazio, Schrader and Blumenauer along with Senators Wyden and Merkley from river users and advocates everywhere for providing us with a wonderful holiday treat.