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North Fork Smith River Threatened by Mining (CA/OR)

Posted: 07/07/2014
By: Megan Hooker

The North Fork Smith River needs your help. An international corporation has their sights set on developing a nickel strip mine on a tributary of Baldface Creek, which is a tributary of the North Fork Smith River. Both are whitewater gems with pristine water quality that also provide strong salmon and steelhead habitat and supply drinking water for residents downstream. Mining activities in this region will threaten all of these values, and is not in the public interest. 

Red Flat Mining Corporation has filed for a 5-year temporary water right (a.k.a. "limited license") for exploratory drilling actives in the area and the Oregon Water Resources Department is accepting public comment on the application until Tuesday, July 8th. If granted, this will bring the company one step closer to their strip mine, and we need your help to stop them in their tracks. 
Submit comments to, and be sure to reference "LL-1533" in your comments or just use the simple online comment form. They can be as simple as asking the ORWD to deny the application for LL-1533 and that using water from the headwaters of the North Fork Smith River for industrial mining operations is not in the public interest.
Here are some additional talking points to consider: 
  1. If you've recreated in the area, it's especially important to talk about your personal experience and why the area has special meaning for you.
  2. Metal mining poses serious risks to human health and ecological functions. If developed, this proposed mine will have negative impacts on the high quality recreational experience provided by the region, harm salmon habitat and water quality and pollute downstream water supplies.
  3. The high ecological and wilderness value of the region has already been recognized through several important designations, including Wild and Scenic on the North Fork Smith, Wilderness for the Kalmiopsis area, and National Recreation Area.
  4. The proposed mine will impact rivers that are eligible for Wild and Scenic designation.
  5. The downstream reaches in California have already been fully allocated.
For more information, you can check out the comments that American Whitewater and 16 other conservation groups sent to the Oregon Water Resources Department to urge them to deny this application. You can also view the application with the OWRD, and read an article about the issue in the Del Norte Triplicate.
American Whitewater will continue to work with our partners to keep the headwaters of the Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith free from mines. Please add your voice to those opposing this water right by July 8th!
(And many thanks to Northwest Rafting Company for the photo!)

Megan Hooker

Full Profile


OWRD Letter Opposing LL-1533 (7/3/2014)

Group letter to OR Water Resources Department opposing water right in NF Smith headwaters.

20140708 AW to OWRD Cleopatra Water Right (9/30/2014)

Letter from American Whitewater to the Oregon Water Resources Department in opposition to LL-1533.

Associated Rivers

Baldface Creek OR
Smith, N. Fork CA

Associated Projects

Kalmiopsis Rivers (OR/CA)

American Whitewater is working to protect the wild rivers of Southwestern Oregon and Northern California from the threats of nickel strip mines.

Smith River (CA/OR)

The Smith River is known for exceptional water quality and is free flowing from the headwaters to the ocean.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!