April 24, 2007
Mike Beagle, (541) 538-9167
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Three southwest Oregon anglers and a Trout Unlimited field coordinator are in the nation’s capitol this week to lobby the state’s federal delegation in support of the Copper-Salmon Wilderness proposal, a plan that would permanently protect about 12,000 acres of pristine forest land along the Elk River near the community of Port Orford.
“This proposal is unique in that it is solely driven by sportsmen,” said TU’s Mike Beagle, who works on public lands issues from his office in Medford. “The Elk River is the healthiest coastal river in the entire state thanks to its intact headwaters that haven’t been extensively logged. That makes for excellent runs of salmon and steelhead, and high-quality fishing.”
Joining Beagle on the trip back east is Jim Rogers, a long-time forester from Port Orford; Monte Matheson, a Port Orford sportsman who lives on the Elk River; and Richard Wolfe, a third-generation fishing guide on the river. All three men have worked for several years to garner support for the wilderness proposal, and have successfully gained the endorsement of the Port Orford city government, the area chamber of commerce and dozens of local business owners who all recognize the economic importance of keeping the Elk River’s headwaters intact.
“This river is very special,” Wolfe said. “When other coastal rivers in southwest Oregon blow out after a good rainstorm, the Elk stays clear and fishable. It’s easily the best river for fish and fishermen in the area. By designating the headwaters as wilderness, we can keep the river like it is for generations, and that’s a priceless gift to our children and grandchildren.”
So far, Beagle said, the state’s federal delegation has been warm to the idea of creating the Copper-Salmon Wilderness, but he and the three Port Orford anglers plan to push forward with this proposal and would like to see legislation introduced and passed this session.
“Some of these people have been working on this for 12 years,” Beagle said. “It’s time to get this done, and we think we have the support of the delegation to accomplish it.”
The volunteer contingent from Oregon can be reached for comment while they’re in Washington by calling (541) 538-9167.