The Seattle Times
Developer forfeits Chetco River gold mining claims
March 6, 2012
By Jeff Barnard, Associated Press
Authorities said Tuesday a Washington developer whose plans for mining gold on a premier Oregon salmon river inspired a bill in Congress to stop him has forfeited his claims.
Read the full article

New York Times Opinion Page
A Mining Law Whose Time Has Passed
By Robert M. Hughes and Carol Ann Woody
Published: January 11, 2012
Oregon’s Chetco River is one example. The river’s gin-clear waters teem with wild trout and salmon, including giant Chinook salmon tipping scales at more than 60 pounds. In 1988, Congress designated the Chetco a national wild and scenic river “to be protected for the benefit of present and future generations.”

But the river is now threatened by proposals to mine gold along almost half of its approximately 55-mile length. Suction dredges would vacuum up the river bottom searching for gold, muddying water and disrupting clean gravel that salmon need to spawn. Despite the Chetco’s rich fishery and status as a wild and scenic river, the United States Forest Service is virtually powerless to stop the mining because of the 1872 law.
Read the full guest opinion at the New York Times.

August 02, 2011  11:20 pm
Curry Coastal Pilot

Chetco River: From headwaters to the sea (Update 4/11/2012: A subscription is now required to read the full article. Here are some excerpts)
Slade Sapora of Brookings stepped from his light pack raft Monday and onto a parking lot at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

He was chilly but happy after a 50-mile solo raft trip from the Chetco River headwaters.

Sapora, 36, was on the Chetco for seven days. It wasn’t an idyllic float down the river. He had to bushwhack several miles across terrain with no trail, and frequently strapped the raft to his backpack to portage spots where the river wasn’t navigable.

He had to avoid rockfall from steep canyon walls rising 2,000 feet from spots where the river was just a trickle in its most remote wilderness portions.

He even had to stare down a black bear that popped onto his path 50 feet away.

Sapora believes he might be the only person to have charted the entire length of the river, starting with a five-mile cross-country hike from Vulcan Peak to the Chetco’s headwaters at Madstone Creek.

Sapora isn’t an expert rafter. He describes himself as a wilderness junkie who simply enjoys being in beautiful natural places.

The Kalmiopsis Wilderness which the Chetco passes through is “a vast and rich natural area that belongs to all of us – the source of the river that gives life to the area we call home,” Sapora said.

He had plenty of stories and memories of lonely wilderness and starry night skies.

“I’m not a big crazy rafter,” Sapora said. “My passion is just getting out into the wilderness.”

July 22, 2011
Medford Mail Tribune

Clearer Than Crystal: Local men carry kayaks through hardscrable wilderness to ride the rarely seen upper Chetco
BROOKINGS — After two long days of bushwhacking through some of the most remote wilderness in the lower 48 states, Zachary Collier stepped toward the base of rarely seen Slide Creek and marveled at the sight below. 
The upper waters of the Chetco River, rarely seen by humans, rushed by him with all the raw and unfettered majesty of the hardscrabble Kalmiopsis Wilderness, which encapsulates the Chetco's headwaters.
Collier drank in the view then plopped his kayak into the roaring Aquafina and paddled a mile of rowdy rapids for a taste of wilderness whitewater that the vast majority of even gonzo kayakers will never share.
J.R. Weir drops through an upper Chetco River rapid while Andy Miller looks on. The pair were part of a four-man expedition into the remote upper Chetco drainage.
Collier and three friends — J.R. Weir, Andy Maser and Billy Miller — launched their expedition to the Chetco's backdoor last month, and they brought back photographs and videos that cast light on a world few will ever see — from both above and below the river's surface.
"What they brought back was amazing," says Barbara Ullian, a Grants Pass activist working to protect the Kalmiopsis and nearby roadless areas from activities that she believes would disturb the land's uniqueness. "I've never seen photos like that before."
Very few have seen the Kalmiopsis the way Collier and friends experienced it.
Designated a federal wilderness area by Congress in 1964, the Kalmiopsis encompasses slightly more than 180,000 acres of steep canyons and rocky ridges accessible only by foot or hoof.
Read the full article.

April 19, 2011l

Oregonian, Associated Press and Medford Mail Tribune

Oregon officials won't let gold mine use suction dredges on the Chetco River
GRANTS PASS -- A Washington developer's plan to mine for gold on one of Oregon's most pristine salmon rivers has hit a roadblock.
A state environmental official has concluded it could be difficult for developer Dave Rutan to get a clean water permit as long as he wants to use suction dredges to mine the Chetco River inside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. 
Read the full article.

July 28, 2010
Medford Mail Tribune - Editorial

Laissez-faire legacy
Two local stories in the past week demonstrate the need to toss out the Mining Act of 1872 and replace it with a law that protects public lands from being damaged and then cleaned up at public expense.
The first was last Wednesday's report that the U.S. Forest Service wants to ban new gold mining claims on the Chetco River while Congress considers permanently raising the level of protection for salmon and steelhead habitat.
Gold miners, lured by skyrocketing prices for the precious metal, are taking full advantage of a law that long ago outlived its purpose. 


June 02, 2010
The Oregonian Editorial Board

Out of a clear blue river
"Most Oregonians never have laid eyes on the Chetco River, which tumbles out of the Siskiyou Mountains and flows into the Pacific Ocean at Brookings, in the far southwest corner of the state. Until now, the Chetco's out of sight, out of mind status has been just fine with those who love the river ...
Without an act of Congress or a formal mining withdrawal, there's no way local land managers can block the proposed suction dredging on the Chetco. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, members of the state's congressional delegation, local environmental groups and American Rivers all have called on top Obama administration officials to withdraw the Chetco from mining. That would give Congress time to pass legislation to permanently protect the river.
But so far there's been no response from the Obama administration. Meanwhile, the mining season draws near, and soon the suction dredges could be stirring up the bottom of one of Oregon's natural treasures. The Chetco needs attention -- and it needs it now."
Read full editorial.

Appeared in print: Sunday, June 6, 2010
Eugene Register-Guard - EDITORIAL:

The endangered Chetco: The administration should protect river from mining

The Chetco River is one of Oregon’s most glorious and pristine rivers. It’s also one of its least known — or at least it was little known until a national conservation group last week named the Chetco one of the country’s 10 most endangered rivers ...
So far the administration has responded with vague reassurances that the government will act to protect the Chetco and the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area if, in the words of Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, “it is determined that the current federal and state laws and regulations are not adequate for the protection of areas such as the South Kalmiopsis or Chetco River.”
That’s not good enough. The federal government shouldn’t wait to order a mining withdrawal until the Chetco, South Kalmiopsis or any part of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area has been damaged by suction dredging.
The mining season opens later this month. There is still time for the administration to protect the Chetco.

June 05, 2010 06:00 a.n.
Curry Coastal Pilot - Editorial

Time to tackle the issue of mining the Chetco
.. In 2009, California banned suction dredging until the state completes an analysis on the process. That sounds like a good idea. We urge local, state and national agencies to follow California’s lead. We encourage proponents and opponents of mining to participate in the process: write to the appropriate agencies, contact their congressional re.presentatives and attend any public meetings.
Read full editorial.
Save Our Chetco note - Letters to the editor of the Curry Coastal Pilot from those who can explain why the Chetco should not become a "free mining corridor," why instream mining is bad and why preserving the Chetco's world class fishery and nationally outstanding water quality is important to you, are encouraged.

Last Update Friday, June 04, 2010
Grants Pass Daily Courier

Chetco River on most endangered list
The Chetco River has landed on the "America's Most Endangered Rivers" list because of a plan to mine for gold in the river... 
"The Forest Service is fond of saying there's no definitive studies showing impacts to salmon from instream mining," Ullian said. "This is the wrong approach. There were no definitive studies saying deep ocean oil drilling would have a certain effect and look what happened. 
"The Chetco is a National Wild and Scenic River and a world class salmon and steelhead stream with exceptional water clarity. Congress mandated these values be 'protected and enhanced.' 
"Mining almost half the river with dredges weighing up to a ton, with up to 3,200 cubic yards of disturbance annually, within the stream itself, is not 'protecting and enhancing.'"
Oregon's congressional delegation has requested the Obama Administration to not allow mining along the Chetco. 
  Read full article.

June 2, 2010
Medford Mail Tribune

Chetco River listed among threatened
"Citing one developer's plans to mine nearly half of the Chetco River, the national American Rivers conservation group has placed the Chetco at No. 7 on its 2010 America's Most Endangered Rivers list.
The river, which flows west out of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, is famous in the West for its wild salmon and steelhead fishery.
The Chetco is part of the federally protected Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The list was announced today." 

Portland, OR June 2, 2010 9:03 a.m.
OPB News

Group Lists Oregon's Chetco River Among Most Endangered In U.S.
"National conservation group has named the Chetco river in southwest Oregon one of the country's ten most endangered rivers this year. Amelia Templeton reports.
The American Rivers group says that salmon and other wildlife in the Chetco river are under immediate threat due to dredging for gold. That's supposed to start on July 15. Kavita Hein is with American Rivers. Kavita Hein: "So we basically want an emergency mining withdrawal for the Chetco river."
Read the full article.

June 2, 2010
Natural Oregon

The Chetco River in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Photo by Lee Webb, U.S. Forest Service.
Plans for a huge gold mining operation has put the Chetco River in Southern Oregon on this year’s “Most Endangered Rivers” list. 
What’s at stake is a river praised for it’s wild salmon and steelhead, and needed for supplying clean drinking water for the town of Brookings. 
The threat comes from a Washington state real estate developer who’s filed for a permit to operate suction dredges on 24-miles of the Chetco. All of those miles fall within the area of the Chetco that’s been designated a Wild and Scenic River. Six of those miles are in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. 
The environmental group, American Rivers, put the Chetco as number seven on its 2010 “Most Endangered Rivers” list. It highlights rivers that face serious problems – and a major decision that could change the outcome. In the case of the Chetco, American Rivers and several Southern Oregon groups want the Interior and Agriculture departments to withdraw the river from entry under the 1872 Mining Act. They hope that will give Congress time to pass a law to permanently protect the Chetco. 

April 15, 2010
Editorial from the Medford Mail Tribune

"The latest venture to raise the ire of environmentalists involves Dave Rutan, a Seattle real estate developer who bought miles of gold claims on the upper reaches of the Chetco River, as well as 45 acres of private property inside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. He flies in paying customers to mine for gold in the Little Chetco River, as well as miles of the Chetco, stretching from inside the wilderness west toward Brookings... 
Short of updating the law, the federal government can withdraw sensitive areas from mineral entry, which bars new claims or continued mining of invalid claims — those that have not been proved to be profitable. 
In November, Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with Rep. Peter DeFazio, asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to order such a withdrawal for Rough and Ready Creek, the area south of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the Chetco River. Vilsack, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, declined, saying his agency would rely on "existing federal laws and regulations" to protect the area." 

March 13, 2010
Oregonian Front Page News

CAVE JUNCTION -- Three years ago, Dave Rutan opened a gold mining retreat inside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness of southern Oregon, bringing in helicopters, gas-powered dredges and paying customers.

He did so without the permission county authorities say he needed.

Now he wants to commercially dredge miles of the Chetco, one of Oregon's purest rivers. He plans to helicopter in four-man crews to seek gold from the equivalent of nearly 50 truckloads of river gravel each season. 

Some environmentalists are aghast.

A lot of things he's proposing are inconsistent with the wilderness," said Barbara Ullian, a Grants Pass nature photographer with a passion for protecting the Kalmiopsis.

An Ashland environmental group, KS Wild, promised to fight Rutan's mining plans "every step of the way."

Rutan, 44, a trim, neatly barbered real estate developer from Washington state, says historic mining law won't let Ullian or others interfere.

The clash over one of Oregon's most remote territories is playing out in a half-dozen government offices. It has sharpened debate over when wilderness is truly wilderness, a sensitive topic in a state with a growing inventory of protected pristine places."