As a supporter of Oregon’s waters, wildlands and wildlife, I was very pleased to see Rep. Peter DeFazio’s recent legislative proposal to protect the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness area and segments of the Chetco River under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
A fraction of the old growth forests that once covered the Coast Range still exists today, putting many wildlife species that depend on these areas in an unstable position. Devil’s Staircase offers ideal habitat for threatened species such as the marbled murrelet, Humboldt marten and northern spotted owl. The Chetco River supplies drinking water to the community and supports the salmon, steelhead and trout runs that heavily contribute to the local economy.
With that being said, there are many more rivers and wildlands with historic and economic importance that deserve the same protections.
In the Rogue River watershed west of Grants Pass, there are roughly 58,000 acres of wildlands and 93 miles of wild streams that remain unprotected. While DeFazio previously proposed protection for this area starting in 2009, it was not included in his latest proposal.
As Oregonians, let’s stand together and encourage our elected officials to introduce permanent protection for more of these unique and invaluable areas for today and future generations!