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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

Rep. Peter DeFazio Introduces Bill to Permanently Establish Protections for the Chetco River

Jul 31, 2018
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) last week introduced legislation that would designate segments of the Chetco River and its tributaries as Wild and Scenic and permanently establish protections against future mining claims.

“I strongly oppose the Trump Administration’s short-sighted decision to let the protections I secured for the Chetco River in 2013 lapse,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “The Chetco River is one of Oregon’s most pristine and ecologically-diverse rivers and is at-risk for pollution and degradation from mining and other destructive activities.  My legislation would protect the Chetco’s salmon and steelhead habitat, preserve the area’s natural beauty, and ensure clean drinking water for Oregon communities.”

Without these protections, environmentally dangerous mining practices will be allowed on the Chetco and its tributaries, endangering wild salmon and steelhead spawning grounds and leaving drinking water for southwest Oregon vulnerable to pollution.  Rep. DeFazio’s legislation would prohibit any new mining claims along several unprotected sections of the river and will require current claims to meet a rigorous validation process in order to be maintained.

In 2013, at Rep. DeFazio’s urging, the Obama administration approved a five-year administrative mineral withdrawal for the Chetco River and its tributaries. The withdrawal expired on July 26, 2018. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has not re-authorized the withdrawal, meaning new mining claims can be initiated.  

The Chetco River has been identified by American Rivers as one of the nation’s most endangered rivers.