Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer recently proposed an “Oregon Treasures” bill that would add 132,000 acres of wilderness, 34,550 acres of recreation area and 80 miles of wild and scenic river designations to the Mount Hood National Forest as well as protect 142 miles of lower and middle Rogue River tributaries as wild and scenic. The proposal would add to the Senate’s pending Lewis and Clark Mt Hood Wilderness bill.
To be designated wild and scenic a river must possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values. A wild and scenic designation means that the river shall shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. I like the sound of that.
In the case of the Rogue River many of the creeks proposed for protection provide spawning and rearing habitat for chinook, steelhead and coho. The creeks have all been found to be either eligible or suitable for federal wild and scenic designation by the BLM the managing agency. Streams proposed for protection important for salmon and steelhead include:
Big Windy Creek, Ditch Creek, East Fork Big Windy Creek, Galice Creek, Grave Creek, Hewitt Creek, Howard Creek, Jenny Creek, Kelsey Creek, Little Windy Creek, Long Gulch, Meadow Creek Missouri Creek, Mule Creek, North Fork Galice Creek, Quartz Creek, Rum Creek, Russian Creek, West Fork Whiskey Creek, and Whiskey Creek.
The Congressmens’ Rogue River proposal is co-opted from the larger Save the Wild Rogue wilderness campaign but does not propose any additional wilderness designations in the Rogue River basin.
A wild and scenic designation for these tributaries is an important step in maintaining and enhancing the Rogue’s legendary runs.