December 19, 2018

Wyden Secures Improved Wildfire Resiliency and Protections for Oregon Wildlands and Rivers in Bipartisan Public Lands Legislation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden announced tonight that he secured several critical measures for Oregon—including improved flexibility for hazardous fuels reduction efforts and protections for wilderness and wild and scenic rivers—in a bipartisan package of public lands legislation that U.S. Senate leadership guarantees will be voted on by the full Senate in January.

“The management of our public lands is nothing to mess around with – it impacts public safety, our local and regional economies, and the clean water and clean air so important to Oregonians and Americans,” said Wyden. “Today the Senate is one step closer to protecting special places and ensuring Oregon’s recreation economy can continue to thrive, all while tackling the growing risk of wildfires facing Oregon communities.”

Improved Wildfire Resiliency Efforts

The bipartisan lands package includes a provision to improve the efforts of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to protect Crooked River Ranch, a community in central Oregon, from the catastrophic effects of wildfire. The provision would release a small number of acres near Crooked River Ranch from a wilderness study area, and includes an amendment secured by Wyden to ensure those lands are managed for forest health and wildfire resiliency.

Public Land and River Protections

The bipartisan public lands package includes provisions of Wyden and Senator Jeff Merkley’s Oregon Wildlands Act that will:

  • Create the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness by designating roughly 30,000 acres of remote lands in the Oregon Coast Range.
  • Permanently protect the Chetco River—a critical source of drinking water and habitat for endangered salmon in southwest Oregon—from mining and mineral extraction.
  • Designate 250 miles of prime Oregon salmon- and steelhead-producing rivers and streams as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including: about 120 miles of Rogue River tributaries; a 21-mile stretch of the Molalla River; 18 miles of Jenny Creek, which flows through the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument; 21 miles of Wasson Creek and Franklin Creek in the Siuslaw National Forest; and several important tributaries of the Elk River. 
  • Protect an additional 40 miles of Rogue River tributaries from mining and future dam installations.

Honor Oregon Couple’s Conservation Legacy with Steelhead Sanctuary

Wyden also was successful in including legislation honoring Frank and Jeanne Moore, an Oregon couple with a distinguished legacy of conservation and habitat preservation. The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act—introduced by Wyden, Merkley, and Rep. Peter DeFazio—designates nearly 100,000 acres of Forest Service land north of the North Umpqua River as the “Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area” and ensures the river, and the surrounding area, will protect steelhead habitat and preserve recreation opportunities for generations to come. Frank Moore returned to the North Umpqua after serving in the European theatre during World War II and settled there, with Jeanne, guiding generations of fishers on the river.