Here's a little background info on Baldface and Rough and Ready Creeks:Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley renewed their call for federal agencies to prevent environmentally damaging mining operations at Baldface and Rough and Ready Creeks in Southwestern Oregon, after American Rivers named the two creeks to its “Most Endangered” list, on Wednesday.
“It doesn’t take a list to know that Baldface and Rough and Ready creeks are special places deserving of federal protection,” Wyden said. “Today’s announcement underscores the urgent need for the administration to act now and prevent mining activities from damaging critical habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead.”
“Oregon has some very special places that merit protection, including Baldface and Rough and Ready Creeks,” said Merkley “These streams are damaged by mining operations and I’m hopeful that federal agencies will step up to protect them.” - Albany Tribune, 4/18/13
Merkley and Wyden have been fighting mining efforts on Rough and Ready and Baldface Creeks for a while now:Zach Collier, the owner of Northwest Rafting Co, says the unusual geology surrounding Rough and Ready Creek and Baldface Creek creates clear pools and interesting interesting rapids. Rare native plants have adapted to the harsh serpentine soils.
“Floating down either one of these creeks, you would run a rapid, catch an eddy, and you would be right next to a carnivorous plant, and float down by Port Orford cedars which are a very rare tree,” he says.
Rough and Ready Creek is a tributary of the Illinois River. Baldface Creek flows through a remote, virtually roadless area a few miles from Oregon’s border with California. It feeds into the North fork of the Smith River.
The same serpentine geology that makes the area a playground for botanists and paddlers has also attracted miners to the area for more than a century. Serpentine soils have high concentrations of rare minerals like nickel and chromium. - OPD, 4/17/13
Merkley & Wyden have presented and re-introduced three bills that protection to more than 100,000 acres of land and four of Oregon’s best-known waterways:Wyden and Merkley have urged the Bureau of Land Management to withdraw the creeks from mining multiple times since 1998. Their most recent request was sent to the administration in a 2011 letter.
Mining activities are allowed in the area under the Mining Law of 1872, which gives favorable treatment to prospectors. However, the federal government has the power to administratively withdraw the creeks from possible mining, an action the Clinton Administration recommended in the late 90’s. - KAJO 1270AM, 4/17/13
If you would like to get more information on Merkley and Wyden's bills and what you can do to help them advance in congress, please contact Merkley and Wyden's offices:The bills — all of which have been introduced in the past — include new and expanded protection for iconic destinations such as the Rogue River, Molalla River and Oregon Caves National Monument, along with lesser-known areas such as Devil’s Staircase. All three bills face an uphill battle.
“Finding a critical mass of support in Oregon hasn’t been the problem,” said Erik Fernandez, wilderness coordinator at environmental advocacy group Oregon Wild. “The problem has been getting floor time or a vote in the gridlock of Congress.”
The most expansive bill is the Oregon Treasures Act. In southwest Oregon, the bill would add 60,000 acres to the Wild Rogue Wilderness and protect three miles of the Chetco River from mining. The act also would designate 21.3 miles of the Molalla River, southeast of Portland, as “recreational” under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and preserve 17,000 acres near Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock in Eastern Oregon.
The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act would designate about 30,500 acres in Siuslaw National Forest as wilderness and protect 14 miles of Wasson and Franklin Creeks.
The Oregon Caves Revitalization Act would expand the Oregon Caves National Monument by transferring 4,070 acres from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service and designate the land as a natural preserve.
The Devil’s Staircase and Oregon Caves bills passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee March 14, while the Oregon Treasures Act remains in committee. - Statesman Journal, 4/3/13
And if you would like to donate to Merkley's 2014 re-election campaign, you can do so here: