November 18, 2021

Wyden Welcomes Step Forward for Legislation to Help Recreation and Wildfire Prevention Work in SW Oregon and Near Molalla River

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today welcomed bipartisan passage of his legislation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to boost recreation opportunities in Southwestern Oregon and on the Molalla River in Clackamas County, while ensuring wildfire prevention work in both of those regions. Wyden's bill is now eligible to be considered by the full Senate.

The Oregon Recreation Enhancement (ORE) Act, which Wyden introduced earlier this year with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., would create the Rogue Canyon Recreation Area and the Molalla Recreation Area, expand the Wild Rogue Wilderness Area, and prohibit destructive mining on pristine rivers in Southwestern Oregon.

"My bill is about ensuring two basic rights for communities in Oregon: the right to clean drinking water and the right to be protected from the devastation of wildfires," Wyden said. "Oregonians understand what keeping our treasured places protected means for water, jobs and the risk of wildfire, and there is strong local support for this bill. I'm going to keep fighting tooth and nail until it's signed into law."

The ORE Act would make the following three designations:

  • Molalla Recreation Area: Establish a 30,000-acre recreation area on the banks of the Molalla River in Clackamas County next to the Table Rock Wilderness Area.
  • Rogue Canyon Recreation Area: Establish a 98,000-acre recreation area on the banks of the Rogue River in Southwestern Oregon next to the Wild Rogue Wilderness Area.
  • Wild Rogue Wilderness Expansion: Expand the existing Wild Rogue Wilderness Area by about 60,000 acres. The federal land included within this expansion has been set aside by federal land managers as land that should be protected and conserved.

Each of these three proposed recreation and wilderness designations would require forest health, wildfire resiliency, and other wildfire prevention strategies in the region to continue.

The ORE Act also would permanently prevent mining on more than 100,000 acres of Forest Service land near the existing Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area. These areas are located at the headwaters of several National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and support clean drinking water for thousands of Oregonians. After much public input and local consensus, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management issued a 20-year mineral withdrawal for this area in 2016.