By: Megan Hooker
International mining companies have sought to develop nickel strip mines within the Kalmiopsis region of Southwestern Oregon and Northwestern California for years, threatening the stunningly pure waters of cherished whitewater rivers like Baldface Creek (tributary to the Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith) and Rough and Ready Creek (tributary to the Wild and Scenic Illinois). Nearby Hunter Creek and the Pistol River on the Wild Rivers Coast are also threatened.
Thanks to the leadership of Senators Wyden (OR) and Merkley (OR) and Representatives Defazio (OR) and Huffman (CA), we have an opportunity to protect these wild rivers and the clean drinking water, salmon strongholds and recreational, social, scientific and economic values they bring to the region. The BLM recently announced that it is considering whether to halt new mining activities for 5 years on roughly 100,000 acres in the region while Congress considers legislation (the Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act) for more lasting protection. You can help support these efforts.
Know as a “mineral withdrawal,” this act by the BLM would withdraw the headwaters of the North Fork Smith, Illinois and Pistol Rivers and Hunter Creek from new mineral activity under the 1872 mining law. This outdated law holds mining as the highest and best use of the land over all other uses, and a mineral withdrawal is one of the best tools for ensuring that other values of the area–like recreation, unique ecology and clean drinking water–are protected.
The BLM is receiving public comment through September 28th, 2015, and paddler’s voices are very important in this process. To support protecting these rivers through a mineral withdrawal, you can send an e-mail through our partners at Outdoor Alliance.
Written comments can be sent to:
Bureau of Land Management
Oregon State Office
P.O. Box 2965
Portland, OR 97208-2965
The EPA has identified the metal mining industry as the largest toxic polluter in the U.S., and if developed, the impacts from these mines on these public lands and wild rivers will be significant and irreversible. Please take action today!
*Thanks to Northwest Rafting Company for the photos!*