Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks Among America’s Most Endangered Rivers
Wild Rivers, Clean Water, and a Botanical Wonderland Threatened by Nickel Strip MiningApril 17th, 2013
David Moryc, American Rivers, 503-827-8648
Barbara Ullian, Friends of the Kalmiopsis, 541-474-2265
Zachary Collier, Northwest Rafting Company, 541-450-9855
Joseph Vaile, KS Wild, 541-488-5789
Washington, D.C. – American Rivers named southern Oregon’s Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2013 today, shining a national spotlight on nickel mining proposals that threaten a wonderland of wild rivers, clean water, rare plants, and outdoor recreation.
“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are facing a critical tipping point,” said David Moryc of American Rivers. “We all need healthy rivers. They provide our drinking water, support the economies of our communities, and promote public health and quality of life.
We hope citizens will take action to ensure Rough & Ready Creek and Baldface Creek remain healthy for generations to come.”
Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks tumble clean and clear though some of the wildest and botanically unique country in the west. The creeks, tributaries of the Wild and Scenic Illinois and North Fork Smith rivers, respectively, are celebrated by wildflower enthusiasts, hikers, and scientists.
A locally owned mining company has submitted plans to the U.S. Forest Service for a nickel strip mine and ore processing facility at Rough & Ready Creek, and a foreign-owned company has submitted a plan for exploratory drilling at Baldface Creek and the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River. The former would require building miles of haul road through the Rough & Ready Creek Botanical Area and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area, and a smelter and mine waste storage on the Rough & Ready Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The latter currently includes exploratory drilling at 54 sites in the Baldface Creek/North Fork Smith watershed to provide the basis for investment and future mine development. Both proposals include lands recommended as Wilderness by the Bush Administration.
American Rivers and its partners called on Congress to permanently protect Rough & Ready Creek, Baldface Creek, and the surrounding area from mining. They also called on the Obama Administration to provide interim protection by immediately withdrawing the watersheds from application of the 1872 Mining Law.
“I’ve hiked, boated, and photographed the wild rivers and backcountry of southwest Oregon since the 1950’s. I love it all, but there’s something inexplicably special about Rough & Ready and Baldface creeks and the spare, wild country they flow through. I’m not alone in this intuition,” said Barbara Ullian, a local resident with Friends of the Kalmiopsis. “It shows in the glowing words of agency scientists, decision-makers, and educators, and in the passion of residents, visitors, and the thousands of people who wrote opposing nickel mining in the 1990’s. We simply cannot lose these incredible places for the little dose of commodities they would provide.”
“These two creeks are not only uniquely beautiful, they also carve their path through a belt of extremely rare, exposed serpentine soil that hosts many endangered plant species,” said Zach Collier, the owner of a local paddling company.
“Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks are a part of our heritage,” said Joseph Vaile of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. “In the heart of the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area, this is one of the biggest wild areas we have left on the West Coast.”
The Rough & Ready Creek watershed has the highest concentration of rare plants in Oregon. Kayakers willing to pack in their boats enjoy the unique creek during high winter flows. Baldface Creek is a remote untouched refuge for coho and chinook salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout.
The annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.