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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kulongoski Calls for Mineral Withdrawal

Release Date: Oct. 15, 2009

Governor calls for greater protections of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area

(Salem) – In letters to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Ted Kulongoski today called for greater protections of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area in southwest Oregon. Specifically, the Governor called for the reinstatement of the withdrawal of mining, first proposed by the Clinton administration in 2001.

“The Siskiyou Wild Rivers area is the most unique and biologically diverse region of our state, and without greater protections, we could lose what makes this area so special,” Governor Kulongoski said. “The first step should be to withdraw mining, and the second should be a wilderness designation – the greatest protection federal law provides.”

In January 2001, the Clinton administration proposed a mining withdrawal for the area. However, the withdrawal was not finalized by the Bush administration. Without the withdrawal, the area is subject to the 1872 federal mining law which does not reflect modern environmental protections or assure adequate royalties to public coffers.

In his letter, Governor Kulongoski also repeated his call for updating of the 1872 law and for permanent protection of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area by congressional action designating it as a wilderness area. Citing a letter he sent to Oregon’s congressional delegation in 2008, the Governor stressed the significance of the Wild Rivers landscape and ecosystems and his specific concern that a recent ban on dredge mining in California could result in new threats of mining to the Wild Rivers area of Oregon.

The Siskiyou Wild Rivers area is noted for its outstanding scenic and recreational values. It is also nationally recognized for its biological diversity and has been designated an Area of Global Botanical Significance by the World Conservation Union. The area is approximately one million acres in size and spans Bureau of Land Management and national forest lands in Josephine and Curry counties.

In both letters the governor also stated "California recently banned the use of suction dredge mining, the same type of destructive mining that is used in southwest Oregon." Destructive in what way?

Governor Kulongoski,

I believe you have been misinformed, but please feel free to correct me. For the record, would you mind citing any specific study that offers more than a subjective opinion of how dredge mining is "destructive"?

I'll be happy to keep rhetorical commentary about how fish enjoy the food stirred up by dredgers, how dredging improves spawning habitat, how dredgers remove lead and mercury from Oregon waterways, how more sediment is moved during Spring thaws than dredgers could ever hope to move if they all worked 24/7 for life, etc, etc, if you'll do the same.

The fact is, all of the oposition to suction dredge mining is based on little more than opinion and rhetoric, and quite frankly, families like mine whose livelihoods are dependant on the small-scale mining industry would rather those in government got their facts straight before any more knee-jerk policy making, at our expense.

Thank you...