Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prominent scientists speak for protecting Chetco River

Writing in the Oregonian Jack Williams and Mike Dombeck, two of the nation's most prominent fisheries scientists and conservationists, urge Congress to take advantage of the second chance that's been given the Wild and Scenic Chetco River and its wild salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. They write:

The second chance came last month when a Washington developer failed to pay annual fees on 11 existing claims on the Chetco and forfeited them. Three of these claims were inside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area and cannot be reclaimed, but it will be open season on the remainder once the temporary withdrawal expires in about a year and a half. If the Chetco River Protection Act becomes law, however, these claims never can be refiled and the river will be protected forever from in-stream mining.
What does the public make of all this? According to the Department of the Interior, more than 11,800 comments were received in support of the Forest Service's request for a halt to new claims. Six comments were received in opposition. At a public meeting in Brookings, 90 percent of those in attendance supported increased protection.
The deputy chief of the Forest Service testified in support of the Chetco River Protection Act and pointed out that in addition to strong runs of fall chinook, winter steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout, the river "contributes exceptionally pure and clean water to the domestic water supplies of the communities of Brookings and Harbor, Oregon." Fish, water and recreation: That is a pretty strong set of values for Oregonians.

Not only is increased protection the right thing to do for salmon and other natural values of the river, but the price is bargain-basement. If Congress acts to pass the legislation, the Forest Service would save at least $810,000, which was the estimated cost to review the eight mining claims that have now been abandoned.
Read the full guest opinion.

Jack Williams is the former forest supervisor of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and now the senior scientist for Trout Unlimited, a 140,000 member strong organization of conservation minded anglers united behind a simple philosophy: take care of the fish, and the fishing will take care of itself. In 2001, he co-authored the seminal paper "Pacific Salmon at the Crossroads: Stocks at risk from California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington" with Willa Nehlsen and Jim Lichatowich.

Mike Dombeck is former chief of the Forest Service and now a board member for Trout Unlimited. He testified before congress in 2008 on the need for mining law reform. Read the testimony here. Dr. Dombeck has dedicated a quarter of a century to managing federal lands and natural resources in the long-term public interest. His leadership in the Bureau of Land Management and as former chief of the Forest Service impacted nearly 500 million acres. He is most noted for significant efforts toward watershed health and restoration, sustainable forest ecosystem management, sound forest roads and roadless area protection and has authored, co-authored, and edited over 200 popular and scholarly publications. 

Dr. Dombeck's most recent book is From Conquest to Conservation: Our Public Land Legacy with Christopher Wood and Jack Williams. The three also co-authored Watershed Restoration: Principles and Practices (Jack Williams Editor). Chapter 6, "Temporal and Spatial Scales" by Robert Ziemer can be read here.