Washington, DC — Eight months after American Rivers named the Rogue River one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ for 2008, the river is more endangered than ever, thanks to a new Bureau of Land Management plan that includes clearcut logging along key Rogue tributaries, and the failure of Congress to pass critical Wild and Scenic River legislation.
The Rogue, one of our country’s most iconic and first Wild and Scenic rivers, could soon have its wild character destroyed if the BLM plan to log key Rogue River tributaries moves forward. The proposal would clearcut 12,000 acres of old-growth trees and build roads in the lower Rogue River basin, threatening clean water and salmon and steelhead habitat.
The 110th Congress failed to pass legislation that would have granted Wild and Scenic protections to 142.9 miles of vital Rogue River tributaries, shielding them from the logging threat. American Rivers and its partners called on the 111th Congress to act swiftly to pass the legislation and give the Rogue the protection it deserves.
Over 70 local and regional businesses now support protection of the Rogue and its tributaries. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-4th OR) introduced the Oregon Treasures Bill, which included Wild and Scenic protections for Rogue tributaries, to the House of Representatives in June 2008. The Senate has not yet introduced a similar Rogue River bill.
Construction of new logging roads and logging old-growth trees would increase the likelihood of sediment flushing into the streams, choking salmon and steelhead habitat, and would also raise stream temperatures through streamside shade removal. The BLM has ignored its own specialists who recommended keeping roadless areas intact to protect the health of the Rogue watershed.
Logging also threatens the experiences enjoyed by the thousands of boaters, anglers and other recreationists who visit the river each year. According to estimates from the BLM the lower river generates $13 million in tourism revenue annually. And, a recent study showed that rafting, fishing, and jet boat tours on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River generated $14 million and 225 jobs in one rural county.
“The wild Rogue River is a natural treasure trove, world renowned for recreation, fishing and its natural beauty. It should be protected once and for all,” said Joseph Vaile of the Save the Wild Rogue Campaign.
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968 granted permanent protection to 84 miles of the lower Rogue. The designation protects a half-mile corridor along the Rogue River, but important uplands and tributaries remain open to destructive logging, road-building and other development that would have serious impacts on the Rogue’s spectacular canyon and the river itself.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.