House Passes Copper Salmon Wilderness Act
Protecting an Oregon Treasure ForeverApril 22nd, 2008
Garrett Russo, American Rivers, (202) 243-7073
David Moryc, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550
Washington, DC — Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Copper Salmon Wilderness Act introduced by Representative Peter DeFazio that would establish the newest Wild and Scenic Rivers and Wilderness in Oregon. The bill would safeguard wild salmon, old-growth forest by designating new Wild and Scenic Rivers and wilderness in the beautiful Elk River watershed. Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith introduced a companion bill in the Senate that now awaits passage.
David Moryc, Director of the Wild Rivers Program for American Rivers, issued the following statement:
“An artist would have a hard time painting a more pristine picture than that of the Elk River Watershed. Teaming with abundant salon and steelhead, and covered by a lush forest, the area is not only a scenic wonder, but an economic engine. With salmon closures spreading up and down the Oregon coast, protecting these natural treasures becomes even more vitally important.
I join with others in offering my thanks to Congressman Peter DeFazio for not only standing up to protect the Elk watershed, but for also for showing the courage to propose protecting its neighbor, the Rogue, which was recently named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers ™ of 2008. American Rivers is honored to be part of a broad coalition, including sportsmen, fishermen, businesses, outdoors people supporting this vital legislation, and I look forward to the day when we can all hail the passing of Congressman DeFazio’s Oregon Treasures legislation.
Both Senators Smith and Wyden have been outspoken in their support of protecting Oregon’s waters, but now is their chance cross the finish line, and hear the crowd applaud them. This legislation must be acted on immediately. With their leadership, these bills will be able to clear any potential obstructionist tactics and be quickly signed into law by President Bush.”
Tucked away in the northwest corner of the Siskiyou National Forest, 11 miles east of Port Orford on the Elk River, lies a 12,000-acre treasure trove. Adjacent to the east boundary of Grassy Knob Wilderness, this natural wonder known as Copper Salmon includes the North and South Forks of Elk River and the upper Middle Fork of Sixes River.
The Copper Salmon area contains the north Fork of the Elk, one of the healthiest salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout runs in the continental United States. Its forests feature Douglas fir trees as large as 10 feet in diameter and up to 300 feet in height, and large disease-free stands of Port-Orford cedar, North America’s most endangered forest tree. Copper Salmon is also blessed with an abundance of wildlife–from endangered marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls to Roosevelt elk, mountain lions and black bears.
This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the nation’s strongest conservation tool to provide lasting protection for some of our most valued rivers, their free-flowing qualities and outstandingly remarkable values. Enactment of the law in 1968 signified a fundamental shift in the way we value rivers. For the first time in our nation’s history we embraced conservation of rivers for their inherent unique qualities and free-flowing nature as wild and scenic. In recognition of the upcoming anniversary, American Rivers has set the goal of designating 40 new Wild and Scenic Rivers by the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in October 2008.