Devil's Staircase (photo by Andrew Kumler)

Press release: U.S. House of Representatives passes Oregon Wildlands Act and other public lands bills

Devil’s Staircase, Molalla, lower Rogue, Chetco, Elk among wildlands and waterways to receive permanent protection

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541.844.8182

Eugene, OR (February 26, 2019) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a sweeping public lands package that mirrors the version approved by the U.S. Senate (S. 47) on February 12. Included in the nation-wide legislation is the Oregon Wildlands Act, the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act, the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and many other public lands bills. 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 Rep. DeFazio’s long-time efforts to pass the Oregon Wildlands Act, which will forever safeguard special places like Devil’s Staircase, the Rogue, Elk, and Chetco Rivers and other Oregon treasures.”

The Oregon Wildlands Act, long-championed by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), 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 House’s passage of the Oregon Wildlands Act is a culmination of over a decade of advocacy by Rep. Peter DeFazio, business owners and public lands enthusiasts who cherish clean water, big trees, and our awe-inspiring salmon and wildlife,” says Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “Devil’s Staircase and the wild rivers included are storybook landscapes and waterways that will now be protected forever. Hopefully, this is a sign of more to come as there is a serious public appetite for this kind of visionary leadership.”

More information on the components of the Oregon Wildlands act can be found here. The legislation now awaits a signature from the President of the United States.

*** photo of Devil’s Staircase (credit: Andrew Kumler Photography)