Wild Rivers Campaign
Just seven miles upstream from River Steward Dave Lacey’s home in southern Oregon a foreign owned mining company was quietly working to develop a nickel strip mine on public lands. The mine would sit in the headwaters of two important wild salmon and steelhead streams. Learning about the poor environmental track record of the hard rock mining industry (the most toxic polluting industry in the United States) Dave and the Native Fish Society’s staff embarked on a three year, Wild Rivers Campaign that ultimately sought to stop not one, but three proposed strip mines before they could irreversibly damage some of the wildest country, cleanest water, and healthiest wild salmon rivers on the west coast.
Working with his local community, Dave canvassed his watershed going door to door with a petition against the mine, (later joined by River Stewards James Smith and Sunny Bourdon) they worked with the Native Fish Society to host events raising awareness about the mines in their rural communities, built local business and brewery coalitions to weigh in during public comment opportunities, gained the support of local city councils and their county commissioners, rallied hundreds of neighbors to turn out to pivotal public hearings, and flooded the public agencies and decision makers with over 64,000 supportive comments.
Thanks to this immense and wide ranging support, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio and senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation for permanent protections and secured the maximum protections the Department of the Interior can provide to discourage mining -- a 20-year mineral withdrawal safeguarding 101,000 acres of public lands. Signed in 2017, this mineral withdrawal will not only help protect these public lands, it also protects the salmon studded rivers and communities found downstream.
In southern Oregon and northern California our River Stewards will continue to work with their communities to secure permanent protections from strip mining through federal legislation, like the recently introduced Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act. These River Stewards have also been working to secure protections for the clean water flowing through their streams; protections that will keep the rivers clean, full of water for fish and recreation, and prevent the mining companies from polluting these areas.
Right now, River Stewards are working across the Pacific Northwest to protect their homewaters and native fish from habitat degradation, overfishing, harmful hatcheries and dams. We believe that the solution to these challenges facing the Pacific Northwest’s native fish can be found at the confluence of empowered and passionate local communities and the best-available science. Working together we can ensure that the Pacific Northwest continues to be defined by its iconic salmon, steelhead and native trout.
To learn more check out all of our current conservation campaigns.
How Can I Help?
We are a truly grassroots organization and it is individuals like you that enable our community of River Stewards to protect their homewaters. If our work inspires you to be more involved there are two ways to support our work:
- Join the Native Fish Society as a member. Every member receives our bi-annual print Strong Runs Newsletter, with stories of grassroots conservation from around the Northwest and our monthly e-newsletter Redd It that allows you to stay up on our work, take action on key campaigns and find out about special events happening around the region.
- If you live the Pacific Northwest and want to safeguard your homewaters, contact us to learn more about the River Steward Program.