Senate OKs bill to create Devil's Staircase Wilderness in Oregon, protect rivers and fish


    Devil's Staircase (photo by Andrew Kumler)

    EUGENE, Ore. - The U.S. Senate passed legislation that would establish the Devil's Staircase Wilderness in Oregon and add additional protections to waterways in Western Oregon.

    The Natural Resources Management Act now goes to the House of Representatives.

    “This package represents the most comprehensive conservation effort for Oregon by Congress in a decade, while also protecting the safety of rural Oregonians from the threat of wildfires," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said. "The House should move quickly to ensure these protections are signed into law.”

    If passed by the House and signed into law by the president, the Act would:

    • Designate 30,000 acres in the Oregon Coast Range as the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness
    • Protect the Chetco River from mining, protecting salmon habitat and drinking water for Brookings
    • Add 250 miles of Oregon waterways to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including 21 miles of Wasson Creek and Franklin Creek in the Siuslaw National Forest

    “Oregon is the Wild and Scenic Rivers state, and I’m exceptionally proud that we’re adding more watersheds and more miles of National Wild and Scenic Rivers”, said Zach Collier, owner of Northwest Rafting Company. “The Chetco and Elk Rivers are particularly important to me and I’m happy to see increased protection to these exceptional watersheds."

    The Act would also designate 100,000 acres of land managed by the Forest Service north of the North Umpqua River as the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area in honor of the river guides who settled there after World War II.

    “The importance of the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary cannot be overstated, and our Senators understand that. When we are asked to fight for our country overseas, this is the country in our minds, and generations of veterans have been fighting here to protect it starting with Frank Moore,” added Sean Davis, a veteran from McKenzie Bridge.

    The Act would also direct the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to act to protect Crooked River Ranch, a community in central Oregon, from 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," the senator's office said.

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