May 2, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Mike Beagle (541) 772-7720, email@example.com
MEDFORD—A group of volunteers and Trout Unlimited staff members seeking wilderness protection for southwest Oregon’s Copper-Salmon area returned from Washington, D.C., late last week encouraged by their reception from members of Oregon’s federal delegation.
“We were very pleased with the way the idea was received,” said TU’s Oregon Field Coordinator Mike Beagle. “We have a strong core of sportsmen and businesspeople interested in protecting the Copper-Salmon area and the headwaters of the Elk River, and I think our lawmakers saw that.”
The Copper-Salmon area is a biologically intact region that includes the headwaters of the Elk River, one of Oregon’s healthiest anadromous river systems. The river is home to vibrant steelhead and salmon runs, and the area’s lush cover shelters excellent populations of black-tailed deer, black bears and mountain lions. Elk also use the area for thermal cover during the summer.
But it’s the fishery that has a group of generally conservative volunteers pushing for this legislation. The Elk, because it runs through intact forest that hasn’t been heavily logged, runs clear throughout the year, even after heavy rains. Most rivers and streams in the area blow out after storms and become mud-laden chutes.
“The Elk River is so important to our community and our economy,” said David Smith, president of the Port Orford Chamber of Commerce. “We really rely on sportsmen who visit this area to fish, and protecting that river system serves to protect our economy for years to come.”
Richard Wolfe, a full-time fishing guide who has been angling the Elk River for the better part of 30 years, is asking lawmakers to protect the river and its headwaters for the benefit of future generations.
“We have been so fortunate to have the Elk River in our backyard,” he said. “Generations of Port Orford and Oregon fishermen have learned to fish for salmon and steelhead on this river. I want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the same benefits we enjoy today.”
The group, while in Washington, spent time with Reps. Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden and their respective staffs, as well as the rest of Oregon’s federal delegation. “We understand that this will take some real effort,” Beagle said. “But for the people of southwest Oregon, particularly for sportsmen, it’s worth it. I’m glad to have Rep. DeFazio and Rep. Walden in Washington—I really think they’ll work for our interests back home.”