On October 2, 2018 – the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act – a bill to protect wild rivers and lands in Oregon moved one step closer to the finish line. The Oregon Wildlands Act (S.1548) passed through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources suggesting it is ready for the spotlight – approval from the full Senate and House and a signature by the President.
Senators Wyden and Merkely’s Oregon Wildlands Act brings together longstanding efforts to protect outstanding rivers and wild landscapes in Oregon. If passed, the bill would protect 90,000 acres of Wilderness in the Devil’s Staircase and Wild Rogue areas, add 256 miles of Oregon rivers to the Wild & Scenic system, safeguard 128,000 acres of the Rogue and Molalla Rivers as Recreation Areas and withdraw an important section of the Chetco River from new mining claims.
Fifty years ago the Lower Rogue River was one of the original eight rivers designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Oregon Wildlands Act would grant nearly 100 miles of tributaries of the Lower Rogue River with the same protections. And, protecting the Rogue, it’s tributaries and it’s surrounding wild landscapes is good for business. According to a 2009 economic report, river-based recreation on and near the Wild & Scenic Rogue River accounted for nearly $30 million in economic output and 445 full and part time jobs.