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Take Action: Protect Kalmiopsis Rivers from Mining Pollution

Posted: 09/01/2015
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 Oregon's Wild Rivers Coast are also threatened.

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.

We have an opportunity to protect these wild rivers, and paddler’s voices are important to making this happen! Please take action today!

The Bureau of Land Management is currently receiving public comment about whether to halt new mining activities for 5 years on roughly 100,000 acres in the region. (Learn more here.) Known 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 This outdated law holds mining as the highest and best use of the land over all other uses, including clean drinking water, rare and endangered species, and recreation. A mineral withdrawal is one of the best tools for ensuring that these and other values of the area are protected.

The temporary “withdrawal” will give Congress time to consider legislation introduced by Senators Wyden (OR) and Merkley (OR) and Representatives Defazio (OR) and Huffman (CA) that brings more lasting protection to the area (The Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act).


Paddler’s voices from across the country are crucial in protecting these whitewater gems and the clean drinking water, salmon strongholds and recreational, social, scientific and economic values they bring to Southwestern Oregon and Northwestern California.

Write to the BLM before September 28th, 2015 to support protecting these rivers through a mineral withdrawal. You can send an e-mail through our partners at Outdoor Alliance or directly to the BLM:

If you live in the region, attend a public meeting and speak up in support of the mineral withdrawal.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015, 5-8 p.m. in Gold Beach, OR

Curry County Fairgrounds
, Docia Sweet Hall, 29392 Ellensburg Ave

Thursday, September 10, 2015, 5-8 p.m. in Grants Pass, OR

Rogue Community College, Redwood
 Campus Auditorium, 3345 Redwood Highway

Thanks for taking action today!

*Thanks to Northwest Rafting Company for the photos!*

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.

Read More

Associated Rivers

Baldface Creek OR
Rough and Ready Creek OR
Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!