Devil's Staircase (photo by Andrew Kumler)

Press Release: Oregon Wilderness and River Protections Signed into Law by President

For immediate release
March 12, 2019

Contact: Josh Laughlin, Executive Director, Cascadia Wildlands, 541.844.8182;

Devil’s Staircase, Molalla, Lower Rogue, Chetco, Elk
Among Wildlands and Waterways Permanently Protected

Eugene, OR – Today, President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping public lands package that passed the US House and Senate in February. Included in the nation-wide legislation is the Oregon Wildlands Act, the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act, the re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and many other public lands bills. The legislation was the first for Oregon to protect Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers in nearly 10 years.

Representative Peter DeFazio and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley championed the conservation legislation for years. The passage was lauded by business owners, conservationists and public lands enthusiasts across the country.

“Protected wildlands and waterways in Oregon are good for business, critical for great craft beer, and are part of our identity as Oregonians,” says Jamie Floyd, co-founder of Ninkasi Brewing Company. “That’s why we are ecstatic about the passage of the Oregon Wildlands Act, which will forever safeguard special places like Devil’s Staircase, the Rogue, Elk, and Chetco Rivers and other Oregon treasures.”

Today’s authorization will designate the approximately 30,500-acre Devil’s Staircase Wilderness in the Oregon Coast Range northeast of Reedsport and safeguard 303 miles of rivers, including nearly 256 miles as Wild and Scenic Rivers, including the Molalla and Elk Rivers and tributaries to the lower Rogue River. The bill will also permanently withdraw portions of the salmon-rich Chetco River, the drinking water source for the City of Brookings, from mining claims. The legislation also creates the 100,000-acre Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area on the North Umpqua River, named after two legendary fish and wildlands advocates of the area.

“Oregon’s inventory of protected wildlands and waterways just got a huge boost, and this is a testament to the conservation passion of Oregonians,” says Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “These are storybook landscapes that will be forever safeguarded from industrialization and will continue to provide clean water, recreation, carbon storage, and critical salmon and wildlife habitat at a time it is so desperately needed.”

Left out of the legislation during earlier negotiations was the 56,000-acre addition to the Wild Rogue Wilderness in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon and the creation of the Rogue Canyon and Molalla Recreation Areas. Conservation organizations continue to work with elected officials, business owners and community members to ensure these permanent protections are included in future legislation.

More information on the components of the Oregon Wildlands Act can be found here.


Devil’s Staircase in the Oregon Coast Range (photo ©Mike Putnam)