Nestled in the mammoth public lands package under consideration in the U.S. Senate this week are pieces of legislation that would protect two of Douglas County’s wild places.
One would create the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Management Area along a North Umpqua River stretch that’s world renowned among fly fishermen and women. It would be named for World War II veteran and fly fishing legend Frank Moore and his wife Jeanne Moore, of Idleyld Park.
Another piece of public lands legislation would create the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness, named for a waterfall in a remote old-growth rainforest north of Scottsburg.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon included both pieces of legislation in the Senate package, which cleared an early procedural vote this week and is still under consideration for a final vote. The public lands package includes more than 130 bills covering localized projects across the country, along with a provision to restore the Land and Conservation Water Fund, which allocates money from oil and gas leases on federal lands for recreation and conservation. The steelhead management area and the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness would also be protected under legislation introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, into the House this week.
The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Management Area would include 99,653 acres of Forest Service land in a special management area where wild salmonid habitat would be protected. The watershed would also be improved to ensure it is a thermal refuge for the fish, who need cool water to survive.
“People realize just how important it is to the overall management of the wildlife resources. Many, many people have worked hard for it,” Frank Moore said Friday of the area that would be protected by the bill.
He said steelhead particularly need the North Umpqua River’s tributaries like Steamboat Creek, which they use for spawning.
Frank Moore has been in the news many times over the years. He’s a World War II veteran who has been awarded the French Legion of Honor and inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. He’s also the subject of the documentary film “Mending the Line,” for which he returned to Normandy to fish the rivers where he fought during the war.
He said Friday he’s glad Jeanne Moore is included in the name of the proposed steelhead management area. While he prizes the North Umpqua for its fly fishing, Jeanne Moore loves the area’s wildflowers and has discovered rare plants that led to conservation of the Limpy Rock area in the Umpqua National Forest. She has also been an organizer of the annual Glide Wildflower Show.
“She is a very, very special lady and she works hard for the area too,” he said. The Moores have been married 76 years.
The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness designation would protect 30,621 acres of land, part of which is currently managed by the Forest Service and part by the Bureau of Land Management. According to the environmental advocacy group Oregon Wild, the area has had no real protection despite being recognized by both agencies as an important wild area. Oregon Wild said the area is home to the highest concentration of northern spotted owls in the Coast Range.
According to DeFazio, the wilderness designation would protect Devil’s Staircase from road construction and logging.
The Devil’s Staircase waterfall, after which the area would be named, is in a remote area accessible only to hikers willing to travel a full day through rugged terrain. DeFazio posted on Facebook a picture of himself at the waterfall in 2018, when announcing he would introduce legislation to protect the area.
“I’ve hiked thousands of miles in my lifetime, and the trek to Devil’s Staircase was one of most challenging and rewarding I have ever undertaken,” he wrote then.
In a news release issued Friday, DeFazio said he was reintroducing four bills to protect wild areas in Oregon, including the one named after the Moores and the Devil’s Staircase.
“The lands protected in these bills are some of the most beautiful, pristine, and ecologically-diverse areas in Oregon,” DeFazio said. “To leave these areas unprotected would be to subject them to pollution and mining, endanger drinking water for thousands of families, and devastate local recreation economies. These bills will preserve some of Oregon’s most spectacular natural beauty while protecting critical salmon and steelhead habitats as well as important watersheds.”