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DeFazio-Authored Legislation to Make SW Oregon Mining Ban Permanent Passes House

Feb 26, 2021
Press Release

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation authored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) to make permanent a ban on new mining projects in some of Southwest Oregon’s most fragile and critically important areas, home to pristine fish habitat, clean drinking water, rare plants, and a thriving recreation and tourism economy.

DeFazio’s legislation was included as part of H.R. 803, Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act

“These headwaters provide critical drinking water for several communities and support highly sensitive ecosystems for salmon as well as the highest concentrations of rare plants in Oregon,” said Rep. DeFazio. “My legislation is necessary to permanently prohibit new mining claims—for the health of our communities and ecosystems throughout the region, it is imperative to protect this area from the threat of foreign-owned mining companies.”

The 101,000 acres of federally-managed lands proposed for permanent withdrawal by DeFazio’s legislation, the Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act (SOWSPA), would protect the watersheds of Rough and Ready Creek, a tributary of the Wild and Scenic Illinois River, the watershed of the Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River in Oregon and the headwaters of Hunter Creek and the North Fork Pistol River, which flow into the Pacific Ocean along the Wild Rivers Coast.

In 2017, the Obama administration agreed to DeFazio’s request to establish a 20-year ban on new mining projects in the Wild and Scenic Smith and Illinois Rivers, as well as Pistol River and Hunter Creek headwaters.