Big Victory For Wild Rivers Campaign
On January 12, 2017 the BLM and Forest Service announced a 20-year mineral withdrawal for 101,000 acres of southwest Oregon.
What does this mean? The Assistant Secretary's signature is the culmination of years of grassroots work including thousands of letters and phone calls, 75,000 supportive comments, 3 packed public hearings, dozens of letters to the editor, house parties, and community presentations which thankfully transformed into two decades of protections from industrial strip mining for 101,000 acres of rugged public lands. These protections extend across the headwaters of the federally designated Wild and Scenic Smith and Illinois rivers as well as free-flowing Hunter Creek and Pistol River. Taken together, these protections will safeguard water quality and habitats for over a dozen remarkable wild salmon and steelhead populations, including threatened coho salmon, returning home to the most intact coastal ecosystem in the lower 48 states.
Equally important the Wild Rivers Campaign is a true testament to the power of local grassroots conservation. For nearly three years, River Stewards Dave Lacey, James Smith and Sunny Bourdon worked with their local communities, with neighbors, friends, local businesses and elected officials to build overwhelming local support for protections.
Campaign Background: Strip Mining Threatens Wild Rivers & Native Fish
Mining companies want to develop nickel strip mines in the pristine headwaters of the Wild and Scenic Smith and Illinois Rivers in southwest Oregon. Nearby Hunter Creek and Pistol River are also threatened! These watersheds are home to wild, native fish including salmon, steelhead, pacific lamprey, eulachon and sturgeon.
What’s at stake?
The proposed withdrawal includes the headwaters of three National Wild and Scenic Rivers that serve as vital strongholds for wild, native fish. Three of these watersheds are free of any hatchery salmonids: Hunter Creek, Pistol and Illinois rivers, making them increasingly important as protectors of diverse and unique salmon and steelhead genetics.
Good News! Mineral Withdrawal Proposed!
The Forest Service and BLM are asking the Department of Interior to protect roughly 100,000 acres of public land by withdrawing the land from mining for five years while Congress considers legislation—the Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act—for more lasting protection. The mineral withdrawal will protect against new mining claims and require existing claims to undergo a test to determine validity.
Environmental Assessment Action Alert Video
Nickel Mining Threat in the Headwaters of Hunter Creek & Pistol River
River Steward Dave Lacey’s Presentation to the League of Women’s Voters
Q&A with Obie Strickler and Dave Lacey
Dave Lacey’s Presentation at the 2014 River Steward Gathering
- Hunter Creek River Steward, NFS Staff and Kalmiopsis Audubon Society President Op-Ed July 4, 2015
- Hunter Creek River Steward, in Article on Proposed Mining Ban Legislation June 30, 2015
- Hunter Creek River Steward Letter to the Editor for Curry County Reporter May 28, 2014
- Hunter Creek Mine Proposed December 11, 2013
- Curry County Commissioners Letter to Forest Service on Red Flat Nickel Mine December 11, 2013
- Gold Beach City Council Referendum against strip mining in the headwaters of Hunter Creek and Pistol River
- Gold Beach City Council letter supporting the Administrative Mineral Withdrawal
- Helped organize 300 Curry County citizens to attended and comment at September 2015 BLM Public Comment Meeting in Gold Beach, OR
- Gold Beach City Council Restricts Water Usage for Proposed Red Flat Nickel Mine
- Resolution of the Curry County Democratic Central Committee Opposing Nickel Mining in Curry County
- Submitted over 600 comments to the Forest Service in support of increased protections for the wild, native fish of Hunter Creek and Pistol River
- Held community meeting in Gold Beach to inform local residents on the proposed nickel mine and the impacts of surface mining practices
- Secured Curry County Commission letter of opposition to the prospective nickel mine operation in Hunter Creek and Pistol River watersheds
- Gained hundreds of signatures from local residents in opposition to the nickel mine