Protecting the beautiful rivers, wild lands and legendary botanical diversity of Oregon's Kalmiopsis Country

Josephine County lags in percent of federal lands protected

The refrain often used by opponents of protecting federal lands in Josephine County is that the mostly rural southwest Oregon area has already contributed more than its share. First, Josephine County lags far behind most other counties in the Klamath-Siskiyou Region and the nation, with only 9 percent of federally owned lands protected. In the region, the average is 25 percent. In the nation, it’s 21 percent.

Josephine County lags far behind the region and the nation in percentage of protected Federal Lands.
 Source Headwaters Economics. Click here for larger graph. 

Second, the federal lands of Josephine and Curry counties are National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land and held in trust for all Americans in much the same way our National Parks are.

The Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Area and Area of Critical Environmental Concern are not protected from mining (Barbara Ullian photo)
Wild azalea at the Eight Dollar Mountain Area of Critical Environmental Concern. This beautiful botanical area and outdoor classroom is not protected from nickel strip mining (Barbara Ullian photo).

They’re host to one of the highest concentrations of rare plants in North America and some of the most beautiful wild, free flowing rivers and valuable salmon and steelhead habitat in the United States. However, these special places and rivers are vulnerable to commercial logging, mining and off-highway vehicle abuse. It’s time to change this.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest invested $1.2 million on facilities to protect the river and the public's enjoyment of it. Budget cuts puts these at risk.
As many as 2,000 people can crowd onto the beautiful National Wild and Scenic Illinois River’s  “Scenic” section on a single hot summer day (Barbara Ullian Photo)

When looking at the amount of federal protected lands in Oregon and California within the Klamath-Siskiyou Region, the disparity is even greater—with 40.7% of the federal lands protected in California and only 13% in Oregon. It’s time to change this too.

Is lack of protected federal lands in Oregon because the values are higher in California. No! For example, all of the National Wild and Scenic Smith River Watershed in California is protected in the Smith River National Recreation Area. But some of the most important fish producing streams in the watershed of this world class salmon and steelhead river are in Oregon and they’re  unprotected and subject to nickel strip mining by a foreign owned corporation.

Does protecting federal lands bring economic benefits to the local communities near them? Yes! According to the National Park Service:

A new National Park Service (NPS) report for 2011 shows that the 76,194 visitors to Oregon Caves National Monument spent $3,848,000 in communities surrounding the park.This spending supported 59 jobs in the local area.The report also shows that the 423,551 visitors to Crater Lake National Park spent $34,688,000 in communities surrounding the park, supporting 565 jobs (emphasis added).

Click here to read more.

Advocating for single use resource exploitation (e.g. mining and commercial logging) of special places on federal lands at the expense of all other uses is as outdated today as the horse and buggy. Please write a letter to the editor of the Grants Pass Courier, Medford Mail Tribune or Illinois Valley Views in support Oregon Caves Revitalization Act and Oregon Treasures Act  and send a personal email thanking Senators Wyden and Merkley here.

Click here to read Headwaters Economics Siskiyou Report.


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