By Dean Finnerty, photo by Ken Morrish
Back to back public meetings in Gold Beach, Oregon and Grants Pass, Oregon (Sept. 9th and 10th respectively) made history for Southwest Oregon conservation efforts.
“In 30 years of conservation work in Southwest Oregon, we’ve never seen this kind of support for protection of our drinking water and salmon and steelhead streams. We’re making history here,” said Port Orford resident and renowned author and wild rivers advocate, Tim Palmer.
An estimated 200 people showed up for the Gold Beaching meeting. All were there to voice their support for a mineral withdrawal in support of legislation for permanent protection effort, brought forward by Sen. Wyden, Sen. Merkley, Congressmen DeFazio and Congressmen Huffman. One bill in the Senate and another currently before Congress would bring permanent protection to Rough and Ready Creek, Baldface Creek, Hunter Creek and Pistol River as well as more than 100,000 acres of public lands from strip mining of nickel.
An estimated 300 people showed up at the Grants Pass, Oregon meeting to comment on the issue before USFS and BLM officials as well as representatives of the delegates bringing forward the legislation. Young children, elders from the native American community, local elected officials, business owners, scientists, artists, campers, hikers, hunters and fishermen all joined together to voice their support for the importance of protecting these places for clean drinking water, salmon and steelhead fisheries and other social values. Many people commented on the recent mining clean-up disaster on Colorado’s Animas River and feared a similar fate for these rivers and streams if mining were allowed here. By contrast, about four people spoke in favor of mining the area.