February 14, 2013

Wyden and Merkley Re-Introduce Land Bills to Protect Wilderness Areas in Oregon

Washington, D.C. – Renewing their efforts to preserve and protect Oregon’s most wild and environmentally important areas, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) re-introduced three bills today that will designate more than 100,000 acres of land as wilderness or preserved areas.

  • The Oregon Caves Revitalization Act will enhance the existing Oregon Caves National Monument by including the entire Cave Creek Watershed in the park site and transferring management of more than 4,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land to the National Park Service, while preserving recreational access to hunters.
  • The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act will designate about 30,500 acres near the Wasson Creek area as wilderness and designate 4.5 miles of Franklin Creek and 10.1 miles of Wasson Creek as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
  • The Oregon Treasures Act will provide protections for five environmentally significant areas in Oregon: the Chetco River, the Molalla River, the Rogue River, Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock. Specifically, the bill will protect three miles of the Chetco River from invasive mining practices, designate 21.3 miles of the Molalla River as “recreational” under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and add 60,000 acres of wilderness to the Wild Rogue Wilderness. It will also protect 143 miles of tributaries that feed into the Rogue River and preserve more than 17,000 acres near Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock. The bill combines four previously introduced bills.

“The lands addressed in these bills are among Oregon’s most pristine areas,” Wyden said. “These areas provide habitats to countless species of plants and animals, economic benefits to surrounding communities and recreational opportunities for Oregonians and visitors throughout the nation. Senator Merkley and I will continue working with our colleagues to do all that we can to preserve these areas for generations to come.”

“Oregon’s wilderness contains some of the most beautiful land in America,” Merkley said. “These bills are an important step toward protecting some of our most treasured areas and making sure that surrounding communities have the healthy salmon, steelhead and trout runs, recreation, and tourism for their local economies that they depend on.”

Senators Wyden and Merkley introduced similar versions of the bills in the previous Congress. Two of the bills, the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act and the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act, passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year. As the new chairman of the committee, Wyden has said he hopes to move through the gridlock that held up these and other public lands bills in the last Congress.

A fact sheet with more information about the bills can be found here.

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