Protections for two Douglas County areas received the nod from the U.S. House of Representatives this week.
If approved by the president, the new legislation would create the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Management Area in part of the North Umpqua River watershed and the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness north of Scottsburg.
They were among several Oregon areas to win protections as part of a massive public lands package protecting lands around the country. It passed the House on a bipartisan 363 to 62 vote Tuesday. The Senate approved the package earlier this month. It next goes to President Donald Trump for a signature or a veto.
The steelhead area includes 99,653 acres of Forest Service land which will now be managed to protect wild salmonids. It’s named for two Idleyld Park conservationists who have dedicated much of their lives to protecting the area. Frank Moore is a World War II veteran who has been awarded the French Legion of Honor medal and inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Jeanne Moore is a longtime organizer of the annual Glide Wildflower Show whose discovery of rare plants led to conservation of the Limpy Rock area in the Umpqua National Forest.
The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness is a 30,261-acre rainforest named for a series of cascading waterfalls on Wasson Creek. The wilderness designation will protect the area against road construction and logging. It will also protect native salmon, trout and steelhead runs along Wasson and Franklin Creeks.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, introduced the Douglas County protections. He said the lands include some of the “most beautiful, pristine, and ecologically-diverse areas in Oregon.”
“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. This legislation will preserve some of Oregon’s most spectacular natural beauty while protecting critical salmon and steelhead habitats as well as important watersheds.”
Cascadia Wildlands Executive Director John Laughlin said the Oregon protections had long been championed by DeFazio and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
“The House’s passage of the Oregon Wildlands Act is a culmination of over a decade of advocacy by Rep. Peter DeFazio, business owners and public lands enthusiasts who cherish clean water, big trees, and our awe-inspiring salmon and wildlife,” Laughlin said. “Devil’s Staircase and the wild rivers included are storybook landscapes and waterways that will now be protected forever. Hopefully, this is a sign of more to come as there is a serious public appetite for this kind of visionary leadership.”