BLM and USFS Issue 20 Year Protection for Kalmiopsis Rivers! (CA/OR)

posted January 13, 2017
by Megan Hooker

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There’s great news for the pure rivers of Southwestern Oregon and Northwestern California! On January 12, 2017, the BLM and Forest Service announced a 20-year halt to new mining activities in the watersheds of the North Fork Smith, Illinois, Pistol River and Hunter Creek. You can read the official press release here.

This 20-year “mineral withdrawal” protects these important watersheds from the threat of industrial strip mining. These watersheds are home to several cherished whitewater rivers in the region, including Rough and Ready Creek, the Wild and Scenic Illinois River, Baldface Creek, and the Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River. The withdrawal protects these lands and rivers temporarily, giving Congress the opportunity to consider permanently protecting them through legislation.

In addition to holding amazing opportunities for great backcountry whitewater trips, these rivers also are strongholds for wild salmon, steelhead and cutthroat. The region provides some of the richest botanical diversity in the country, and Baldface Creek and the North Fork Smith in particular supply pure, clean drinking water for downstream communities. These rivers provide local communities with the foundation for the outstanding natural resource values that fuel their local economies that are based on sport and commercial fishing, recreation, scenery and tourism. 

Local communities showed overwhelming support for protecting the pristine rivers of the region from the threats of future mining proposals, as did paddlers from across the region and the country, affirming that this place is simply too special to mine. Many thanks to all of you who signed petitions, wrote letters, attended hearings and stood up in support of protecting this place, over and over again! This overwhelming support, in combination with the strong dedication for protecting this place of Representatives DeFazio and Huffman, and Senators Wyden and Merkley, is what made this important milestone a reality!

American Whitewater has been working to protect these wild lands and rivers with many other conservation and recreation partners, and we celebrate this milestone with them today! But, our work isn’t over. The 20-year mineral withdrawal is in place so that Congress has time to consider legislation that will permanently protect these rivers, the values they hold and the communities that rely on them for their livelihoods. As we celebrate this milestone, we also ask that you stay engaged. American Whitewater will keep you informed of future opportunities.

You can help us today by thanking key members of Congress from Oregon, Washington, and Northern California's 2nd Congressional District). We have made it easy and prefilled the technical details with an option for you to customize your note.

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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.

Associated Rivers

Baldface Creek [OR]
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Rough and Ready Creek [OR]