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

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The Kalmiopsis – Wild Rivers Coast | Too special to mine

Confluence of Baldface Creek and Taylor Creek, just below the northeast corner of Red Flat Nickel Corporation's Cleopatra mining claims. J.R. Weir Photo.
Confluence of Baldface Creek and Taylor Creek, just below the northeast corner of Red Flat Nickel Corporation’s Cleopatra mining claims. J.R. Weir

Long-sought interim protection from nickel strip mines achieved

Decades in the making and overwhelmingly supported by the public, interim protection from new mining has been achieved for two special areas  in southwest Oregon while permanent protection is being  sought.

The two areas—the Rough and Ready and Baldface creeks and North Fork Smith River watersheds in the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area and the Hunter Creek and Pistol River headwaters along the Wild Rivers Coast—are threatened by nickel strip mine proposals by Red Flat Nickel Corporation—a foreign-owned mining company and RNR Resources. 

Kalmiopsis Rivers - Grants Pass hearing
Grandma Agness Pilgrim, Takilma Elder, tells the audience, “wake-up, we are all water babies.”

The 20-year mineral withdrawal that’s in effect prevents the location of new mining claims and requires that the holders of existing federal mining claims demonstrate that any proposals to mine the area comply with the laws of the United States, including the 1872 Mining Law, before mining activities can begin. Learn more here and scroll down for two important actions you can take.

Holding on and making it permanent

The Southwest Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act, which would make closing the area to new mining and require existing claimant to establish their right to mine permanent, was re-introduced in the House and Senate in January of 2017 (H.R. 310  and S. 192 respectively). These paired bills also include still-needed protection for 17 miles of the Wild & Scenic Chetco River.

The new conservation movement | Show up – Speak out

Isadora Millay from the Illinois Valley, testifying at the Grants Pass hearing in favor of the mineral withdrawal.

In today’s crazy political climate it’s going to take everything we’ve got to hang onto the interim protection everyone worked so hard to acheive and grow it into permanent protection. The continued support of our members of congress is essential to both.

We’re in a new age of citizenry. We saw it with the hundreds who turned out for the 3 public hearings for the mineral withdrawal. And the many thousands to wrote comments in support of it. Unfortunately we cannot rest on our laurels.

Speaking for the Illinois Valley Kids for Clean Water, Rory’s message was -“water is life.” 

Right now the two most powerful thing you can do to be heard above the din is to call your congressional representatives regularly and show up at town halls at every opportunity. Both are essential.

According to members of congress, agencies and the latest research, what really counts is to make phone calls, send faxes, write personal/substantive letters and show up for town halls and hearings. Our members of Congress cannot do it without us.

Action #1

Please make phone calls thanking our members of Congress for their tireless work to protect the rivers of the Kalmiopsis and Wild Rivers Coast regions from nickel strip mining

Here’s a sample script. At the beginning of your call provide your name, where you live and your personal connection to the area and its rivers:

I’m calling to thank you for re-introducing the Southwest Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act to protect our precious wild rivers from the threat of mining.

The National Wild and Scenic Illinois, Smith and Chetco rivers and Rough and Ready and Baldface creeks and their clean clear waters are irreplaceable. Hunter Creek and the North Fork Pistol River are beloved by those who live along them and the local community. They’re too special to mine.

I especially appreciate your strong leadership to get the current interim protection from new mining in place for 101,000 acres of the Kalmiopsis and Wild Rivers Coast regions.

Scroll down for links to where you’ll find the phone numbers of the key congressional offices. 

Action #2

Show up and make your voices heard

We were told that the number one thing we could do to thank our members of congress, who fought long and hard for the 20-year mineral withdrawal, is to show up at town halls.

This 20 second video, of an inspirational moment at the Gold Beach hearing for the then proposed Southwest Oregon Mineral Withdrawal, shows that the local citizens of the Wild Rivers Coast showed up and stood up. Dave Lacey, who lives, works and is raising his family about 4 miles below one of the proposed mines is the speaker.

Everyone Stand Up! from Native Fish Society on Vimeo.

Congressional office phone numbers and contact information

testifying for the 20-year Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal to packed house of 350 or more.
On the evening of November 15th, despite the cold and rain, a record 350 people turned out for a third public hearing—this one in Brookings, Oregon. All but three of those who testified supported the 20-year mineral withdrawal. When a show of hands was asked for, the vast majority of the room raised their hands in support of the 20-year withdrawal.

This page was revised and updated on May 14, 2017.

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