U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (Oregon) and Jared Huffman (California) today sent a letter to the House Committee on Natural Resources urging the committee to take immediate action to schedule a hearing for H.R. 310, The Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act.
This bill would permanently protect salmon and steelhead strongholds on the southern Oregon Coast from new mining claims in the North Fork Smith, Chetco, Hunter Creek, Pistol River, and Rough and Ready Creek drainages. These watersheds produce some of the coldest and cleanest water in Oregon, provide drinking water to a number of coastal communities, and are home to some of the strongest runs of coho, chinook, and winter steelhead in the Lower 48.
Permanent protection for the coldwater habitat and legendary salmon and steelhead fisheries in Southwestern Oregon has long been a priority for Trout Unlimited. For example, TU staff and grassroots strongly supported the proposed withdrawal of new mining claims in the Kalmiopsis region, and cheered the interim 20-year Southwest Oregon Mineral Withdrawal promulgated by the Department of the Interior in 2017. The protection act is the next logical step in ensuring that some of the best fisheries in Oregon are protected in perpetuity.
TU has worked to advance SOWSPA since it was first introduced by Rep. DeFazio in 2015. We thank Reps. Huffman and DeFazio and their staffs for their steady leadership in working to ensure that future generations of anglers will be able to enjoy these precious watersheds, and the exceptional salmon and steelhead fisheries they support, as we do today.
— Kyle Smith