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.
Three miners opposed the measure. One person who spoke was concerned about airplane contrails and another about job killing government regulations.  However, since freshwater fishing contributes at least $4.5 million annually to the economy of Curry County and mining essentially nothing, the proposed withdrawal would have little or no adverse effect on local jobs. It would instead help protect one of the main economic engines of the Wild Rivers Coast, the Chetco River's salmon and steelhead runs.

Those who spoke on behalf of the river were articulate and made a wide variety of good points—about personal connections to the river, about the unique qualities of the national wild and scenic Chetco, about how mining would degrade the values for which the river was designated, about the importance of the remaining salmon runs, about the economic importance of fish and fishing to the local communities, that the river was, in fact, the source of many jobs for local entrepreneurs and small businesses, and about wanting to pass along opportunities to the next generation to experience such an extraordinary river.

Written comments must be received by November 30, 2011.  The address where comments should be sent and a sample letter is on the "How to Help" page or at Kalmiopsis Audubon-news. However, people's own testimony is the most powerful form of public comment, so we urge those attending the hearing to write out what they said at the hearing.

The purpose of the proposed mineral withdrawal is to give Congress time to consider the legislation introduced by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer to provide greater protection for the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River.