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DeFazio Applauds Committee Passage of Copper Salmon Wilderness Act

Apr 2, 2008
Press Release

Legislation Would Protect Rare, Intact Coastal Ecosystems

April 1, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC –Congressman DeFazio (D-Springfield) is pleased to announce that the House Natural Resources Committee today approved H.R. 3513, the Copper Salmon Wilderness Act of 2007. The bill would permanently protect nearly 13,000 acres in the headwaters of the Elk River on the southern coast of Oregon, and designate more than 11 additional miles of the river as either wild or scenic under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The bill unanimously passed out of the Committee.

"This legislation would protect some of the last remaining stands of Port-Orford-cedar in the Elk River watershed, which has the distinction as one of the most productive salmon and steelhead rivers outside of Alaska. This is rugged, wild territory, and I am thrilled that it may finally become wilderness in the 110th Congress," DeFazio said.

Renowned among fishermen, the Elk River watershed is one of the last intact watersheds on the southwest Oregon Coast and is widely regarded as Oregon’s last, best coastal salmon and steelhead stream.  Oregon State University researchers have concluded that the Elk River is one of the healthiest habitats in the lower 48 states for anadromous fish, and the stream is home to chinook salmon, winter steelhead, coho salmon, cutthroat trout, and rainbow trout.

Diverse stakeholders have been working together for more than a decade to gain broad support for protecting the Copper Salmon area. H.R. 3513 enjoys backing from a wide array of interests including Curry County Commissioners, local elected officials, the local Chamber of Commerce, hunting and fishing groups, tribes, the timber industry, and all local conservation groups.

"Copper Salmon is truly a rare coastal Oregon gem. It is almost entirely intact ancient forest, which supports healthy fish runs and great elk herds, blacktailed deer, bears, and other wildlife. It is adjacent to the existing Grassy Knob Wilderness, and combined, these two areas will be one of the largest intact areas of forest in the Coast Range. This is a region that deserves protection for the enjoyment of future generations."

The Copper Salmon Wilderness Act now heads to the House floor for consideration.