September 19, 2006

Sweeping Mount Hood Protections Proposed

Wyden plan permanently protects recreational and scenic areas on the mountain, in the Columbia Gorge from future development

Washington, DC As the nation celebrates the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition this year, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today called for designating 160,000 acres of additional wilderness along the expeditions path in the Columbia River Gorge and in areas surrounding Mount Hood, as well as designating four river segments under the Wild and Scenic River System. Wyden released details of his plan and announced his intentions for the "Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2004" on the floor of the U.S. Senate today."For the millions of current visitors to Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge, and for the millions more who will follow, the time has come to prepare for our future and protect these cherished lands," said Wyden. "Both development and recreational demands will continue to swell in the region in the days ahead, and the time has come for the state to choose its course for Mount Hood and the Gorge. I hope Oregon and the Congress, on a bipartisan basis, will join with me in embracing permanent protection."The wilderness areas Wyden is proposing for protection include: * Mount Hood Wilderness additions (approx. 65,000 acres total) These additions include very popular recreation areas; large cathedral old growth forests; scenic viewsheds; the oldest alpine structure in the U.S.; important habitat for deer and elk; historic lava beds; and a critical watershed for The Dalles. Included are the historic Tilly Jane trail, Lost Lake, Shellrock Mountain and Mill Creek Buttes, the historic Barlow Pass and Bonney Butte, Twin Lakes, and the Lower White River. * Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness additions (approx. 36,200 acres total) These additions include a viewshed of the Columbia Gorge; recreation areas; waterfalls (including the headwaters of Multnomah Falls); and wildlife habitat. McCall Point, renowned for unique species of wildflowers, is included. * Badger Creek Wilderness additions (approx. 23,600 acres total) These additions include the important transition zone between east and west side ecosystems, including old growth ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and western larch; the largest intact roadless area near Mount Hood; key habitat for cutthroat trout and other wildlife; and popular recreation areas (particularly elk and deer hunting). Included are Lower Badger Creek/Jordan Creek, Hellroaring Creek, Fifteenmile Creek and Boulder Lake. * Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness additions (approx. 34,900 acres total) These additions include popular recreation areas, a watershed for the City of Sandy; diverse wildlife; and viewsheds from many popular ski areas. Included are Alder Creek, Salmon River Meadows, Eagle Creek, Mirror Lake and Abbot Burn/Upper Salmon River Meadows. * "These forests symbolize the natural beauty of Oregon; they provide the clean water for the biological survival of threatened steelhead, Coho and Chinook salmon. These forests provide critical habitat and diverse ecosystems for elk, deer, lynx and the majestic bald eagle. And these are the forests that provide unparalleled recreational opportunities for Oregonians and our visitors," Wyden said.The four river stretches proposed for addition to the National Wild and Scenic River System include: * East Fork Hood River (14.9 miles) This stretch contains highly scenic and picturesque views; popular trails to waterfalls; and steelhead and coho salmon habitat. * Middle Fork Hood River (4.7 miles) This stretch contains one of a kind lava flows with unique vegetation; salmon, steelhead and bull trout habitat; and high quality riparian areas. * Zigzag River (9 miles) This stretch includes the historic Barlow Road and 1930s CCC campgrounds and structures; habitat for spring chinook, coho salmon, summer and winter steelhead and resident cutthroat trout. * Eagle Creek (8.3 miles) This stretch includes prime and diverse habitat for numerous species of fish and wildlife (including resident cutthroat and rainbow trout); popular areas for dispersed camping and hiking; and pristine water quality."I have heard from community after community that they fear a threat to their local drinking water, or the need for further protections from development," Wyden said." Congressional statutory designation as wilderness provides the only real protection of the historical, scientific, cultural, education, environmental, scenic, and recreational values that contribute to the quality of life of which Oregonians are so proud."After consulting further with civic leaders in Oregon, as well as his colleagues in Washington, D.C., Wyden plans to introduce the "Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2004" as legislation in the next several weeks.