July 10, 2014

Wyden-Merkley Oregon Caves Bill Passes U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C. – Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced the Senate passage of the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act, their bill to add new protection to one of Oregon’s most unique natural treasures. The bill passed unanimously late Wednesday night.

“This bill is another tribute to Oregon’s bounty of precious natural places, and to the unique beauty of the Oregon Caves National Monument,” Wyden said. “Passing this legislation will promote recreation in Southern Oregon, boost the local economy and improve forest health. I urge the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass this bill into law.”

“The Oregon Caves National Monument is an amazing Oregon treasure, and this bill ensures that we can protect the caves and surrounding land for generations to come,” Merkley said. “This legislation will strengthen local communities in southwest Oregon, boost state tourism and help restore our forests. I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this bill.”

The bill expands the Oregon Caves National Monument in Southwest Oregon and enhances protections of the site 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 for hunters.

Preserving this additional land will increase tourism to the largest marble cave open to the public west of the Continental Divide and encourage ecological forest restoration. The legislation also gives a scenic designation to the River Styx that travels through the caves – the nation’s first such distinction for an underground waterway.

Wyden and Merkley first introduced the bill in 2009. It now goes to the House of Representatives. It is the second Oregon wilderness bill to pass the Senate this congress, following the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act last year.