Will Congress go Rogue?
Few rivers can compare to the rugged beauty that is the Wild Rogue River. Generations of Oregonians have come to the Rogue to experience what famed western author Zane Grey called â€œthe most beautiful stream of Oregon.â€
Amazingly, parts of the Rogue River remain nearly as wild as they were in 1926 when Grey built a cabin along the river that now serves as a popular tourist stopover. In 1968, a stretch of the Rogue was protected as one of the nationâ€™s first eight Wild & Scenic Rivers. A few years later, National Forest lands surrounding the river were permanently protected as Wilderness to safeguard special spots like Mule Creek Canyon, a highlight of any rafting trip down the Rogue River.
Unfortunately not all of the ancient forests and pristine tributaries in the Rogue River Canyon have been well-stewarded or protected. Planned old-growth timber sales, road-building, off-road vehicles, and mining violations have recently threatened the unprotected sections of this precious river. Boaters who journey down the Rogue probably donâ€™t realize that the large adjacent roadless area is still an unprotected landscape of giant Douglas firs and cascading streams like Kelsey and Whisky Creek that greatly contribute to the ecological health of the Rogue River.
The Rogueâ€™s ethereal beauty also translates into very tangible economic benefits. A recent economic study determined that recreation on the Rogue generated $30 million to the state of Oregon in 2007, including 445 jobs.
The river is also the second largest Pacific salmon producer in Oregon, second only to the Columbia River. Rogue River salmon provide $16 million in benefits to the sport fishing industry each year, and have millions of dollars more in value to Oregonians and other West Coast residents.
Given all that the Rogue River gives usâ€”once-in-a-lifetime rafting trips, a chance for a father and daughter to fish for salmon, a thriving outdoor recreation economy and a high quality of lifeâ€”itâ€™s time for us to give back to the Rogue. Right now, Congress has a unique opportunity to do just that.
Earlier this year, the regionâ€™s primary timber industry lobbying group agreed to a proposal that would protect 58,000 acres of Wilderness and over 90 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers stretching from Grave Creek to Marial.
Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Peter DeFazio have twice introduced similar legislation aimed at safeguarding this special section of the Rogue River for future generations. Now, with Congress considering a land and water protection package in the final days of the 2010 session, a Wild Rogue Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River bill has a chance to become the law of the land.
Please call, write, or email your senator or congressman and ask them to support the public lands omnibus bill that will expand the existing Wild Rogue Wilderness. Visit the Save the Wild Rogue web site to learn more about how to act today!
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