Saturday, December 17, 2011

Volunteers gather fish data on the Chetco River

According to an article in the Curry Coastal Pilot, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, with the aid of volunteers are doing salmon carcass county on the Chetco River to help determine future management.

ODFW officials and volunteers cruise the Chetco River on Thursday morning. The Pilot/Steve Kadel.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Protecting the Chetco gains support at Wild Rivers Night

A short presentation in Portland at Wild Rivers Night resulted in almost a hundred river lovers expressing their support for protecting the Chetco River from gold mining.

An added bonus was this short preview of film Andy Maser took while kayaking the Chetco this June with friends Zach Collier, Billy Miller and J. R. Weir. Read more about their trip.

For the beautiful Chetco River - Thank You

Update: The BLM informed us that over 11,600 comments were received in support of the proposed temporary mineral withdrawal for 17 miles of the Chetco River.  Six commenters opposed the withdrawal.

Thanks to all who took the time to submit comments in support of the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service's proposed "withdrawal in aid of legislation" for the Wild and Scenic Chetco River. It's estimated BLM received 9,000 or more comments in support of greater protection for this beautiful world class salmon and steelhead river.

Drift boats on recreational section of the Chetco River from Floating the Chetco.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Help save the Chetco River from gold mining.

If he could speak from the grave, Ed Abbey would explain it this way:
The love of [wild rivers] is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth … the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see.
Billy Miller in Conehead on the Scenic Chetco River - Northwest Rafting Company photo. 
So if producing 40 to 65 pound chinook salmon is not enough, here's one more reason to protect the priceless Chetco River from proposals to mine almost half its length for gold. It's the epitome of America's Great Outdoors.

A 65-pound reason to protect the Chetco River from gold mining

There's few rivers like it on the West Coast. Extra large chinook salmon are not anomalies for this beautiful relatively small river. Last week saw a 65-pound record king salmon and three 45 to 50 pounders caught in a single day. Earlier this season over a dozen 45 to 50 pounders were reportedly caught.  See also "Chetco living up to it reputation as world-class."

Wayne Davis and guide Andy Martin with catch.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chetco living up to its reputation as world-class

CHETCO RIVER, Ore.—The first 50-pound king of the season was caught trolling the estuary, along with a 47 pounder and a number of 40 pounders, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The main river doesn't open until Nov. 5. Expect the kings to pour into the main river regardless of the date, you just can't fish for them in the main river until Nov. 5.  Fishing Report October 28, 2010.

Chetco River 47-pound chinook salmon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chetco hearing shows strong local support for withdrawal

Supporters of stronger protection for the National Wild and Scenic Chetco were significantly in the majority at the October 26 Forest Service/BLM hearing in Brookings, Oregon. Of the 40 speakers, 35 testified in favor of the Forest Service's proposal to withdraw ~ 17 miles of the Wild and Scenic River from mineral entry and location under the 1872 Mining Law for five years.

Forest Service and BLM officials hold a public meeting in Brookings, Oregon on the proposed temporary mineral withdrawal for the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River.
The Curry Coastal Pilot reported that:
Local residents strongly supported banning future mining along the Chetco River during a forum Wednesday afternoon at the Best Western Inn.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The economics of fishing and mining in Curry County

There are may reasons why the Wild and Scenic Chetco River should be protected from gold mining and withdrawn from mineral entry and location under the 1872 Mining Law. One particularly relevant for small businesses in Curry County is that protecting the river also protects a major economic engine for the area.

Brookings/Harbor at the mouth of the Chetco River during the 2009 Salmon Derby (Barbara Ullian Photo).
The travel expenditures associated with freshwater fishing in the county were estimated at $5.1 million for the year 2008. Local recreation expenditures associated with freshwater fishing were an estimated $673,000. Saltwater fishing provides additional significant economic benefits in Curry County. Hardrock mining, on the other hand, contributes little or nothing to the local economy and is unlikely to ever do so.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

17 miles of Wild and Scenic Chetco River temporarily withdrawn from the Mining Law in aid of legislation

Small dredge mining upper Scenic Illinois River. Photo KS Wild
Updated on October 20, 2011 — On August 1, 2011, the Bureau of Land Management published a notice in the Federal Register that segregates (a temporary withdrawal) approximately 17 miles of the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River from location and entry under the Mining Laws of the United States. See Forest Service map of proposed withdrawal area and the Forest Service's Press Release explaining the withdrawal and announcing the time and place of the Wednesday, October 26th public meeting in Brookings.  Learn what you can do to help before November 15th.

The two year segregation period provides opportunity for the public to comment on the Forest Service's proposal to withdraw the 5,610 acres—the Wild and Scenic corridor of the river from Boulder Creek downstream to the Forest Boundary—for a period of five years. The purpose of the withdrawal is to provide congress with time to consider legislation to provide greater protection for this world-class salmon and steelhead river.  The withdrawal applies only to National Forest lands and does not affect private land in the corridor.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chetco River clean-up October 22nd—Volunteers Needed

Brookings, Oregon – Community members are invited to join the Chetco River Watershed Council on October 22, 2011 for a Chetco River fall clean-up. Cleanup will start at Loeb State Park at 9 A.MLots of help is needed to make the cleanup a success. For more information contact: Stan Easley 541 661-1820 or Karen Munson 541 469-1043.

The Chetco River Watershed Council is working to preserve and enhance the Chetco River's watershed.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Trans Kalmiopsis Wilderness Trail maintenance update

Kalmiopsis leachiana was in bloom. 
This June 15th, volunteers maintained 7 more miles of the Trans Kalmiopsis Wilderness Trail between the Vulcan Lake Trailhead and Box Canyon Camp. The Siskiyou Mountain Club crew put in 790 grueling hours of work to make the trail passable.  Read about their amazing work and their update of the Trans Kalmiopsis Trail project at the Club's website.

Photo of the rare endemic shrub that the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was named for by Siskiyou Mountain Club,

Chetco River Journey: From headwaters to the sea

Rafting the Chetco River. Slade Sapora
Slade Sapora grew up exploring the tide pools of southwest Oregon's Wild Rivers Coast and swimming in the Chetco River.  He says he's "fascinated by the natural world we are a part of and passionate about the scientific understanding of it’s endless complexities."

At 36 Sapora may be the first person to have charted the entire length of this rugged, beautiful little Wild and Scenic River—from the Chetco's headwaters in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness to the Pacific Ocean at Brookings/Harbor.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kayaking for conservation—A Wilderness Journey

On June 15, 2011, four intrepid river runners went looking for a wild river in the heart of one of the wildest wilderness areas in the West. They went knowing a Forest Service gate would add five miles (all up hill) to what was going to be an arduous trek anyway.

It's all uphill from the Wild and Scenic Illinois River to Chetco Pass the watershed divide of the two wild rivers.  Google Earth Image.
On the banks of the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River, they strapped their supplies, camera gear and boats on their backs and went looking for the Chetco, a little known, seldom run river.

A Wild Chetco Adventure

Three local long-time wild river runners made a unique journey on the Chetco this July. Tim Palmer, Ann Vileisis and Alan Wilson spent two days going upstream from the Tolman Ranch put-in. Their goal? To see for themselves the two mile segment of the Wild and Scenic River that would be reclassified—from Scenic to Wild—under the Chetco River Protect Act.  The upgrade in river classification of the reach between Boulder and Mislatnah Creek was recommended by the Siskiyou National Forest in the 1993 Chetco Wild and Scenic River Management Plan.

The Scenic River Area of the Chetco downstream from the Tolman Ranch put-in.  This is in the area of the Gold #7 mining claim.  Ann Vileisis Photo

Their downstream float continued past their put-in to what's known as the Steel Bridge. While designated as Scenic, and not recommended by the agency to be re-classified, it also meets the criteria of a Wild River Area.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Suction Dredge Mining on California's Salmon River

This Karuk Tribe video has good underwater fish and spawning footage and shows some of the impacts of suction dredge mining on the National Wild and Scenic Salmon River in Northern California.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Floating the Chetco—Watch on Vimeo and KBSC

Join guide Harvey Young of Fish Hawk River Company, local sponsors and the Chetco Watershed Council on a float of the beautiful lower Chetco River.  Watch Floating the Chetco on Vimeo and then join the efforts of local groups to protect and preserve this iconic world class salmon and steelhead river.

You can also watch the program on KBSC TV's Facebook Page.

Harvey Young and KBSC TV float the lower Chetco River in a locally sponsored program. Watch on the provided links. Photo from the video.
The lower Chetco River float begins at the Little Redwoods Campground on National Wild and Scenic segment of the river on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Harvey fills us in on the flora and fauna, recreational uses and history of the river.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Economics—Angling v Mining

A February 7, 2011 Wall Street Journal Article entitled "Big Salmon Runs Spawns Big Profits" states:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated anglers in California made $2.7 billion in fishing-related expenditures in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available.
So how much money does suction dredging—the mining of stream bottoms for gold—contribute to the economy?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Protecting the Chetco River—Where are we now?

In 2008, a Washington based mining company submitted plans to mine almost half the length of the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River, including about 6 miles in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.  The threat of mining on this beautiful world class salmon and steelhead stream remains strong—especially with the escalating price of gold (from ~ $800 to ~ $1,500/ounce).

In 2010, American Rivers named the Chetco one of America's Most Endangered Rivers.  In 2011, the Pew Environment Group released the report "Ten Treasures at Stake."  One of the ten incomparable areas at risk from mining in the report includes the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River and nearby Rough and Ready Creek.

However, there are efforts underway to protect the Chetco and its nationally outstanding waters:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

California—public loses with suction dredge mining

In California, lawmakers have moved to block funding for suction dredge mining permits. As Catherine Freeman, consultant for the legislative panel, put it:
If you suction dredge and you take out a fish breeding ground, well, you've probably gained some money, but the public has lost and the public trust has lost.
According to this Oregon Public Broadcasting article, Freeman says,
[I]t's expensive for the state to ensure that mining is in compliance with environmental standards ... issuing and enforcing permits would cost the state $2 million.
The same article quotes Lesley Adams of Rogue Riverkeeper, a group that has sued the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality over its lack of oversight:
DEQ has no requirement that miners report on their mining activities.  So we have no idea when and where and how often these miners are mining in our creeks that have salmon in them.
Ironically, the USDA Forest Service has no idea either. So in Oregon it's almost a free-for-all for miners who extract gold from the public's lands and waters for free. [1]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Managing whole watersheds for big fish

The Wild Rivers Coast has the opportunity to become one of the West Coast's most important salmon reserves, a concept that could help sustain human communities and salmon and steelhead populations alike. Anglers, guides and organizations like Trout Unlimited have provided a model with a new conservation initiative—the Elk River Watershed Salmon Emphasis Area.  They articulate a bold vision for the future.
"Managing a whole watershed for big fish is also unique.  But our point is that it will help Oregon's economy whether it involves sports fishing or commercial fishing."
Mike Beagle of Trout Unlimited as quoted in the Medford Mail Tribune describing the Elk River proposal. Read more at Sportsmen for the Elk, or the Medford Mail Tribune.

The two other big fish rivers on the Wild Rivers Coast, the Chetco and the Smith Rivers, have larger watersheds but offer similar opportunities to take a whole watershed approach.  Like the Elk they have a high percentage of National Forest lands within their watersheds, they're free flowing from their headwaters to the Pacific and some of the work has already been done.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The legacy of Tom McCall

The Oregon Administrative Rule that's put a hold on mining in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was established under Governor Tom McCall. It was a time of bold environmental leadership and working across the isle that saw the public's access to Oregon's beaches preserved and the nation's first bottle recycling bill.

A priceless natural heritage—public beach along Southwest
Oregon's Wild Rivers Coast (Photograph - Barbara Ullian)

Clean Water Act puts Kalmiopsis mining plan on hold

A little known Oregon Administrative Rule—established when Tom McCall (R) was Governor and recently brought to light when mining groups sued the State of Oregon—has cast a chill on a Washington company's plans to mine the Wild Chetco River in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

The exceptional clarity of the Chetco's water in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness may make it impossible to mine in the Wilderness and comply with the Clean Water Act. It has implications for the validity of the three remaining mining claims in the Kalmiopsis, possibly making them worthless. But its up to the State of Oregon and the Forest Service to comply with and defend the Clean Water Act Rule. Zach Collier, Northwest Rafting Company photo.
On April 19, 2011, the Associated Press and Oregonian reported:
The Forest Service has suspended an environmental review of Rutan's gold mining plan [in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness] until he resolves the issue with the state ...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank federal legislators

Last week, Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio re-introduced legislation that will increase protection for the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River (outside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness) and for the Oregon Caves National Monument.  Please send a quick "Thank You" email by going to KS Wild and click "Sign Petition."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chetco River Protection Act and Oregon Caves Revitalization Act of 2011 Introduced in Congress

Wild and Scenic Chetco River that would be reclassified
as "Wild" under CRP Act.  Photo USDA Forest Service.
Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio re-introduced the Chetco River Protection Act (CRP Act) on April 7th. The Act is in good company—part of a package of three bills that includes the Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act and the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act. The latter would establish a 4,000 acre Natural Preserve in the Lake and Cave Creek watersheds on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest east of Cave Junction, Oregon.

Lake Creek provides the drinking water for the National Park Service's facilities at the Oregon Caves National Monument.  Cave Creek originates as the River Styx deep within the Oregon Caves.  It exits at the main entrance of the caves and then flows under the historic Chateau to emerge below. The Preserve will be managed by the Park Service.