Update March 11, 2013: Today the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced they will consider S. 354, the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act of 2013, on Thursday, March 14th at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Click here for the agenda and other information.
The hearing will be webcast on the committee’s website. Senator Ron Wyden, the new committee chair, announced a policy of webcasting hearings and creating a library of committee documents for public viewing. Read more here.
On February 14th, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley reintroduced the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act and introduced the Oregon Treasures Act of 2013. The Oregon Treasures Act is a suite of previously introduced bills. It includes what was the Chetco River Protection Act S. 764 and the expansion of the Wild Rogue Wilderness. See the press release here and download the accompanying fact sheet here (301.7 KB). Please go to their websites and write brief note of thanks. Senator Wyden here and Senator Merkley here.
In an editorial entitled “Wilderness bills — again,” the Eugene Register Guard writes that conservatives will complain that we have too much Wilderness but only 4 percent of Oregon is protected as Wilderness, while 15 percent is protected in California:
The measures would give some of Oregon’s wildest and most beautiful forests and rivers permanent wilderness status — the highest layer of protection the law can confer.
Read the full editorial.
National Wild and Scenic Chetco River
To learn about the National Wild and Scenic Chetco River and the legislation which would provide this world class salmon and steelhead river needed additional protection from large-scale instream gold mining go to Save Our Chetco River.
Oregon Caves National Monument Expansion
The Oregon Caves Revitalization Act would expand the tiny Oregon Caves National Monument by a little over 4,000 acres and would add Cave Creek and Lake Creek to the National Wild and Scenic River System. The expansion would help the Park Service provide a high level of protection for the domestic water source of the tiny postage stamp Monument’s visitors and administrative services. The watershed is currently managed by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. You can download the Government Printing Office report of the legislation here and read the text of the 2013 Oregon Caves Revitalization Act here.
It also includes the beautiful Bigelow Lake Botanical Area (~1,000 acres) and Mt. Elijah (6,668 ft.). Mt. Elijah provides grand 360 degree views that include the Siskiyou Crest, the South Kalmiopsis and the High Siskiyous in California. The Bigelow Lakes Botanical Area forms the headwaters basin of Lake Creek. It’s one of the few glaciated areas in the Siskiyou Mountains where cirque lakes are still present.
How to get there
When the snow’s melted, there’s a scenic trail through the Botanical Area and to the top of Mt. Elijah. Here’s the Native Plant Society of Oregon’s instructions for getting there:
Turn left (east) in Cave Junction and travel 18 miles on Hwy 46. Drive into the parking lot at Oregon Caves, turn around, head back down hill and immediately turn right on gravel road FS-960 and head uphill (steep at first) 2.7 miles, then right on FS-074 0.5 mile, and right on FS-079 (on the maps the road # is 070) 0.8 mile to the trailhead parking area. Two choices to reach the old trailhead 0.6 miles from the present trailhead: walk the old road, or take the new trail segment upslope from the old roadbed, under the forest canopy. RT Mileage: 62 miles (drive time one way: 1 hr 15 minutes). 1 mile hike into the large lake, the last part off trail. 1.4 miles from the large lake to the top of Mt. Elijah