DR. ALAN BATES
State Senator, District 3
Ashland, Jacksonville, Medford, Phoenix, Talent
Deputy Majority Leader
Co-chair, Human Services Joint Subcommittee
Member, Joint Ways & Means
February 11, 2013
CONTACT: Jeff Scroggin (503) 986-1703 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bates stands up for Southern Oregon rivers and property owners
Legislation will protect region’s legacy of clean water and river recreation
SALEM—Today, Senator Alan Bates (D-Medford) joined a coalition of fishers, rafters, conservationists, and other river users to encourage the state to evaluate and potentially curb a new wave of suction-dredge mining on the Rogue, Chetco, and other area rivers and creeks.
“Southern Oregon is home to thousands of us who consider our peaceful, pristine rivers a legacy to pass on to the next generation,” said Bates. “The dramatic increase in this potentially harmful practice may have serious impacts on fish, recreational users, conservationists and affected property owners.”
Suction dredging, which is the practice of vacuuming up a river bed with a motorized raft to obtain gold, has become more prevalent over the past decade, growing from a few hundred permits a decade ago to nearly 2000 permits last year. “Clean water and healthy fish are cherished Oregon values, and I’m calling for hearings and a thoughtful discovery process to ensure protection for these threatened rivers and streams,” said Bates.
Joining Senator Bates was John Ward of Rogue Flyfishers, who spoke in support of a concept that would add new miles to the successful State Scenic Waterways program for the first time since 1988. “We must protect Southern Oregon and the rest of the state from new, destructive behaviors by expanding the State Scenic Waterways program. This move would be good for fishermen and for the recreational fishing industry,” said Ward.
Bates will continue to hear from local residents, including property owners, miners, local businesses, and he remains open-minded about possible solutions. “If it’s bad for our rivers and streams, then it should not be allowed in the most vulnerable and beautiful portions of those waters,” said Bates. “We must ensure that miners offset the costs to property owners and other river users – and we must ensure as little damage to our rivers as possible.”
Expansion of scenic waterways as proposed in SB 401 would increase protections from just one-third of 1 percent of Oregon’s rivers and streams to only one-half of 1 percent.
Senator Bates serves on the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and is the Deputy Majority Whip.
Editors Note: Cascadia Wildlands is part of a broad coalition of conservation, environmental, angler, and recreationalist supporting this legislation.