A homegrown movement to protect the clear waters and wild rivers of Oregon's Kalmiopsis - Wild Rivers Coast

Video – Thank you for clean water and clean rivers into the future

There is no way to individually acknowledge all those who contributed so much and worked tirelessly to get in place a 20-year mineral withdrawal for this rugged, remote corner of Oregon and California.

The withdrawal now provides interim protection from new mining for two special areas—one in the South Kalmiopsis and Packsaddle Roadless areas and the other along the Wild Rivers Coast—while permanent protection is sought. They sit at the headwaters of some of this nations most cherished Wild and Scenic Rivers, famous for their clear waters and wild salmon and steelhead runs.  

Support during the long grueling public process has been overwhelming. An amazing 99% of all public comment and testimony were in favor of the 20-year withdrawal.[1]

Thank you to all those working hard to protect our clean water and clean rivers, with special thanks to Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representatives DeFazio and Huffman 

We hope this brief video (2:30 min) inspires you pick up the phone and call each of the congressional offices to thank your member of congress and to urge them to work to make the protection permanent.[2] See our take action page.

clean rivers and clean water
The Illinois is one of three National Wild and Scenic Rivers flowing through and out of the greater Kalmiopsis regions. It’s is the Northwest’s premier whitewater river but its also the wild salmon and steelhead refuge for the Rogue Basin. Northwest Rafting Co. Photo. 

Moving forward amid the perils and uncertainty 

It’s so important to make your phone calls, and to show up and speak out at every opportunity. There’s a thousand demands on our members of congress. They have to hear from you that protecting the clean water and clean rivers of the Kalmiopsis and Wild Rivers Coast regions is a priority. They are these lands and rivers best defense now.

In fact, some question whether the West—with its priceless public lands and the beautiful rivers that flow from and through them— will survive the assault that’s already begun.[3] We simply don’t know what the future will bring.

Our strength is in the overwhelming support for protecting what makes this area so unique and in the support of our members of congress.

Finally, while the withdrawal closes the two withdrawal areas to the location of new mining claim. There’s over 6,000 acres of existing claims. In these cases the withdrawal will not prevent mining if the claims are found to be valid. It does, however, at least require that the existing claim holders (basically two mining companies—one of which is foreign-owned) demonstrates the claims are valid and comply with the laws of the United States before mining activities can begin. 

clean water and clean rivers
Hunter Creek River Steward for the Native Fish Society, Dave Lacey is a local hero in the struggle to preserve the clean water and clean rivers of the Kalmiopsis and Wild Rivers Coast.

Clean water and clean rivers into the future

The 20-year mineral withdrawal is an interim an interim measure to protect the exceptional scientific, social and ecological values of these areas while permanent protection is sought. It’s taken over two decades to achieve and “yes,” while imperfect, it’s the best that can be done given the archaic and illogical provisions of the 1872 Mining Law. The clean water and clean rivers that flow from the public lands of Josephine, Curry and Del Norte Counties are irreplaceable. They are the future.


[1] Approximately 45,000 comments were received during the first two public comment periods and during the first two public hearings. The U.S.. Forest Service Environmental Analysis for the withdrawal found that approximately 99.9% of all comments supported the mineral withdrawal. In 2016 a second 90 day comment period was held and a third public hearing. The balance between comments supporting the withdrawal and those opposing it were basically the same. We believe approximately 20,000 more comments were during these two opportunities for public input.

It’s also important to acknowledge that the most affected communities all supported to the 20-year mineral withdrawal. These include Gold Beach and Cave Junction, Oregon and Crescent City, Hiouchi and Gasquet in California.

The majority of the population of Del Norte County get their drinking water from the Smith River below the proposed Cleopatra Mine Project in the North Fork Smith River/Baldface Creek watershed. The Del Norte Board of Supervisors support the 20 year mineral withdrawal.

[2] The idea for this video is Ann Vileisis‘.  There was simply no time to get everyone together after the first of the year, so she arranged a presentation at Northwest Rafting Company’s Wild Rivers Night to film a big “thank you” round of applause and to acknowledge our members of congress who fought so hard for this.

[3] See for example “Could Trump Dismantle the West” in High Country News.


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