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

Video – A Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal thank you—clean water and clean rivers are the future!

We made a short video to thank all of you who worked tirelessly on the 20-year Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal. The withdrawal will help protect 101,000 acres of National Forest and BLM land in a rugged, remote corner of Oregon from new mining, while a legislative solution is being sought.

The video is also a special thank you to Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Peter DeFazio and Jared Huffman. Without them and you. none of this would have happened,

Working for clean water and clean rivers into the future.

Celebrating treasured Oregon lands and rivers

Local and overall public support was overwhelming. An amazing 99% of all comment and testimony supported this interim protection for the two special areas of public land encompassed by the withdrawal.

Included in the 101,000 acres is the southern half of the South Kalmiopsis, which lies between the east side of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the Illinois River Valley. Known as the Rough and Ready and Baldface Creeks Withdrawal Area, it sits at the headwaters of two of this nation’s most pristine National Wild and Scenic Rivers—the Illinois and North Fork Smith with the watershed of the Wild and Scenic Chetco River just over the ridge. All three rivers are famous for their beauty, exceptionally clear waters, and wild salmon and steelhead runs.

The other beloved area subject to the Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal lies a little inland from Southern Oregon’s spectacular Wild Rivers Coast. and Cape Sebastian Scenic Byway and State Park. It’s known as the Hunter Creek and North Fork Pistol River Headwaters Withdrawal Area. Both streams are valued for their native salmon and steelhead and for being great to live along. They flow directly to the Pacific Ocean between Brookings and Gold Beach Oregon

Express your continuing support

We hope this brief video inspires you pick up the phone and call each of the congressional offices to thank your member of congress for all their work getting us this far 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 region. It’s the Northwest’s premier whitewater river and the wild salmon and steelhead refuge for Oregon and the Rogue Basin. Northwest Rafting Co. Photo. 

Moving forward amid 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 pure water and clean rivers of the Kalmiopsis and Wild Rivers Coast regions is a priority. Oregon’s members of Congress are these lands and rivers best defense now.

There are some that 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 currently underway.[3]  We simply don’t know what the future will bring.

Our strength is in the overwhelming support for protecting what makes the Kalmiopsis and Wild Rivers Coast so special and unique—their beautiful rivers and creeks—and in the support of our members of congress.

And we must not forget that, while the withdrawal closes these two special areas of National Forest and BLM land to the location of new mining claims, it will not prevent mining on valid existing claims.There are three large existing claim groups in the withdrawal areas.  If any are found to be valid they can be mined. More on this to come.

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 are the future

The 20-year Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal is an interim measure to protect the exceptional scientific, social and ecological values of these areas while a legislative solution is being 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 National Forest and BLM lands in Josephine and Curry counties are priceless and 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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