Of the over 11,800 comments received during a 4 month long public comment period, only .05 percent opposed the temporary protection for this beautiful little 44.5 mile long wild and scenic river. The Chetco, a world-class salmon and steelhead river, was threatened by plans to mine almost half its length for gold. In 2010, it was named one of America's Most Endangered Rivers.
Proposed by the Bureau of Land Management at the request of the Forest Service, the purpose of the temporary mineral withdrawal is to preserve the status quo on the river, while congress considered the fate of legislation. The measure was requested in 2010 by Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio in a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Interior. The members of Oregon's congressional delegation wanted to prevent the location of new mining claims, even though there were many miles of existing claim on the river outside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness—and require validity determinations on existing claims before mining was approved.
Little did anyone know at the time that this proactive approach on the part of the Obama Administration would result in making the Chetco River Protection Act even more effective at protecting the river from mining and would save the taxpayer at least $379,000. See Claim Forfeiture: Saving a river, saving taxpayer money.