|Brookings/Harbor at the mouth of the Chetco River during the 2009 Salmon Derby (Barbara Ullian Photo).|
Curry County is home to three National Wild and Scenic Rivers—the Chetco, Elk and the Oregon half of the North Fork Smith. These rivers were all added to the National Wild and Scenic River system in recognition of their world class salmon and steelhead fisheries and outstanding water quality. It's also in Curry County that the great National Wild and Scenic Rogue and Illinois Rivers meet and flow to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach. Both are world class fisheries too. The economic benefits the county's National Wild and Scenic River provide are significant. Kalmiopsis Audubon Society writes:
Salmon and steelhead fishing attract tens of thousands of tourists and provide an essential economic boost to our towns through the winter. Freshwater fishing accounted for over $4.5 million dollars of expenditures in Curry County in 2009 and over 400,000 fishing licenses are sold in Oregon each year.Some of these numbers are detailed in a 2009 report by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Travel Oregon. For Curry County they include:
- Travel generated expenditures for freshwater fishing - $4,452,000.
- Local recreation expenditures for freshwater fishing - $673,000.
- Travel generated expenditures for saltwater fishing - $4,921,000.
- Local recreation expenditures for saltwater fishing - $262,000.
Other recreational pursuits, dependent on the quality of the rivers and the public lands they flow though, also contribute both directly to the economy of the area and to the quality of life that's drawn so many to the southwest Oregon coast and in recent years.
Southwest Oregon Mining Facts.
Federal mining claims are a unique type of property but in Oregon they're not taxable property. So even though claims owners often assert a right to the land over all other users, they pay no property taxes. Some even live on federal mining claims for free, paying only the $125.00 annual recording fee or claiming an exemption.
Under the 1872 Mining Law, the hardrock minerals found on public lands, including gold are simply given away. The federal government receives no royalties—nothing—and the public is often left holding the bag for remediation and clean-up. The largest toxic superfund sites in the nation are abandoned mines.
|Miners camp along the 4 miles of the Wild and Scenic Illinois River that's open to the 1872 Mining Law (Rich Nawa Photo). Note—Miners have been exempted from prohibitions that other users of the Wild and Scenic Illinois River are asked to follow.|
While county specific numbers are not available, the general importance of fishing to Oregonians can be seen in the number of licenses issued. For example in 2010 Oregon Department of Fish and Game issued over 500,000 fishing licenses. When added to Sportspac and combination licenses the number grows to ~ 626,000. Over 14,500 out of state licenses were issued in 2010, bringing in over $1,500,000 in license fees alone. See ODFW's annual report on license sales:
Withdrawing 17 miles of the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River from operation of the 1872 Mining Law to provide greater protection for its outstanding water quality, world class salmon and steelhead populations and recreational opportunity is good for business and good for Curry County.