Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today welcomed House passage of the bipartisan public lands legislation that passed the Senate earlier this month. The bill is the largest public lands package passed by Congress in a decade and includes important conservation and wildfire protections for Oregon secured by Wyden.
“At my town halls, and in line at the grocery store, I hear from Oregonian after Oregonian who wants our state’s special places protected. Now, even more of Oregon’s natural treasures will be preserved for future generations to enjoy, our recreation economy will continue to grow and thrive, and communities in Oregon will be better protected from the threat of wildfire,” said Wyden.“Today, I celebrate yet another proud chapter of Oregon’s conservation legacy, but this book is far from finished—and I’ll be coming back for more.”
When the bill is signed into law, Wyden will have championed the designation of 1,986 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers in Oregon—more than any other member of Congress, overall, for the contiguous 48 states—ensuring Oregon will have the most wild and scenic river designations in the continental United States.
Public Land and River Protections
The bipartisan public lands bill passed by Congress includes provisions of Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley’s Oregon Wildlands Act that will:
· Create the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness by designating roughly 30,000 acres of remote lands in the Oregon Coast Range.
· Permanently protect the Chetco River—a critical source of drinking water and habitat for endangered salmon in southwest Oregon—from mining and mineral extraction.
· Designate 250 miles of prime Oregon salmon- and steelhead-producing rivers and streams as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including: about 120 miles of Rogue River tributaries; a 21-mile stretch of the Molalla River; 18 miles of Jenny Creek, which flows through the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument; 21 miles of Wasson Creek and Franklin Creek in the Siuslaw National Forest; and several important tributaries of the Elk River.
· Protect an additional 40 miles of Rogue River tributaries from mining and future dam installations.
Honor Oregon Couple’s Conservation Legacy with Steelhead Sanctuary
The bill also includes legislation introduced by Wyden, Merkley, and Rep. Peter DeFazio honoring Frank and Jeanne Moore, an Oregon couple with a distinguished legacy of conservation and habitat preservation. The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act designates nearly 100,000 acres of Forest Service land north of the North Umpqua River as the “Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area” and ensures the river, and the surrounding area, will protect steelhead habitat and preserve recreation opportunities for generations to come. Frank Moore returned to the North Umpqua after serving in the European theatre during World War II and settled there, with Jeanne, guiding generations of fishers on the river.
Improved Wildfire Resiliency Efforts
The bipartisan public lands legislation includes a provision to improve the efforts of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to protect Crooked River Ranch, a community in central Oregon, from the catastrophic effects of wildfire. The provision would release a small number of acres near Crooked River Ranch from a wilderness study area, and includes an amendment secured by Wyden to ensure those lands are managed for forest health and wildfire resiliency.