Rep. DeFazio and Sen. Wyden Introduce New Legislation to Protect the Rogue
Federal legislation introduced that would result in permanent protection for important tributariesJune 17th, 2009
<P>Kavita Heyn, American Rivers, 503-827-8648 <BR>Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 ext. 3100</P>
Portland, OR – American Rivers today applauded Representative Peter DeFazio and Senator Wyden for introducing legislation that would designate 40 Rogue River tributaries as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The legislation, known as H.R. 2890/S. 1271, would protect 143 river miles and over 78,000 acres of riverside land.
The Wild Rogue is among the nation’s most iconic wild rivers. It was one of the original rivers designated under the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the Rogue remains a world-class whitewater rafting destination. The river and its tributaries are also home to the second largest runs of salmon and steelhead in Oregon (outside of the Columbia River system). These runs are the cornerstone of multi-million dollar fishing industries in the region. A recent economic study by ECONorthwest determined that Rogue River recreation annually generates $30 million to the state of Oregon, including 445 jobs. Another study by ECONorthwest found that the salmon runs of the Rogue provide more than $1.5 billion in economic benefits to West Coast residents each year, including the sport and commercial fishing industries and the overall quality of life in the area.
However, many of the Rogue’s significant fish-bearing tributaries are threatened by clear-cut logging, road building and illegal mining, and these impacts are also felt by communities and businesses which rely on the health of the river. Due to these threats, the Rogue was listed in America’s Most Endangered Rivers: 2008 Edition, and American Rivers has been working with a large coalition of over 70 business supporters and local partners as part of the Save the Wild Rogue campaign to permanently protect these tributaries through both Wild and Scenic and wilderness protections.
“Representative DeFazio and Senator Wyden have done a great service to the people of Oregon by introducing this Wild and Scenic legislation,” said Kavita Heyn, Associate Director of Oregon Conservation Programs at American Rivers. “Not only is the Rogue River an important resource that can help us adapt to climate change, it also fuels the state’s economy by offering unparalleled recreational experiences and economically important resources. We thank Rep. DeFazio and Sen. Wyden for being champions for this natural Oregon treasure. The Save the Wild Rogue campaign also hopes that they will also introduce 60,000 acres of wilderness protection which are necessaryto ensure that threats to the Rogue’s fish-bearing streams are minimized.”
A Wild and Scenic designation protects the land along both sides of a river, blocks dams and other harmful water projects, and preserves a river’s free-flowing nature. It also helps protect and improve water quality, as well as the river’s unique historic, cultural, scenic, ecological, and recreational values. Designation can also bring economic benefits to the surrounding region as well by supporting recreation and tourism and increasing the quality of life.
There are more Wild and Scenic Rivers in Oregon (59) than in any other state in the nation. In March, thanks to the efforts of American Rivers and our partners, President Obama signed the second largest Wild and Scenic Rivers package in history into law, protecting more than 90 new river miles in Oregon, bringing the nationwide total of Wild and Scenic Rivers to 252.