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Protect Oregon's Rivers from Suction Dredging!

Your voice needed now to support legislation in Salem to expand the State Scenic Waterways system and protect these streams and rivers for fish, wildlife and recreation.

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Suction Dredges on the IllinoisThere are currently state senate bills in play that would better protect a number of rivers around the state from suction dredge mining, and we need your help to keep them afloat.

This practice of vacuuming up the stream bottom and spitting it back out is having an increasingly detrimental effect on water quality, fish populations and the ability of fishermen, boaters and landowners to enjoy the river. Suction dredging is increasing so fast that there was a 200% increase from 2011 to 2012 in permitted suction dredge miners in Oregon, and we expect more in 2013!

The mining community is fighting any bill that would restrict suction dredging in any way. Senator Alan Bates introduced one of the bills and his office has been receiving a large amount of calls and letters telling him that they are opposed to efforts to protect our streams, rivers, fish and river-side landowners.

Your state senator needs to hear from people now who support protecting Oregon's rivers and streams. Please write them a letter telling them you value clean water, healthy fish populations and quiet recreational opportunities, and you support efforts to protect those values!

Write or call!

  • Ask your senator to support SB 115 and efforts to protect Oregon's streams and rivers (including SB 401 and SB 370).
  • Explain why you value clean water, quiet recreation, wildlife habitat and healthy fish populations. For example are you a rafter? A fisherman? Do you live on the river? Do you enjoy swimming on a quiet gravel bar without suction dredges hammering away? Personal stories are good!
  • The bills would prohibit suction dredging statewide (SB 115), designate some stream segments as state scenic waterways where suction dredging is not permitted (SB 401), and increase the cost of permits for this activity (SB 370). Streams named in SB 401 include the Applegate River, Brice Creek, Briggs Creek, Cedar Creek, Chetco River, Cow Creek, Illinois River, Eagle Creek, Elk Creek, Grande Ronde River, Grave Creek, Josephine Creek, Little Applegate River, McKenzie River, Metolius River, Molalla River, North Fork Burnt River, Quartzville Creek, Rogue River, Rough and Ready Creek, South Umpqua River, Sandy River, Silver Creek, South Fork Alsea River, Sucker Creek and Yachats River.

Find your Senator at:

Just enter your zip code and find out who your State Senator is.

An example letter:

Please write your own personalized letter to have more effect with the legislators, but feel free to use this as a starting point!

Dear Senator _____,

As an Oregonian, I value clean water in our rivers and streams for healthy fish populations and quiet recreational opportunities. I hope that you will support Senate bills SB 115 and SB 401 to protect those values.

I frequently fish and raft on the Rogue River, and would like to see more portions of the river protected. The State Scenic Waterway system would set the highest and best value of these river sections for fish, wildlife and recreational activities. In doing so it would preserve the scenic and wildlife values of the river, as well as protecting drinking water supplies and riverside property values.

One threat to a portion of the Rogue as you may know is suction dredging. Suction dredging is a rapidly increasing form of gold mining that causes direct impacts to fish and invertebrates by the dredging process itself. The act of dredging also mobilizes turbidity which chokes aquatic ecosystems, and toxic mercury buried in the stream-beds which can make it's way into the food chain and drinking water supplies.

In addition the practice is damaging to salmon populations through the creation of gravel tailings piles, which are less stable than natural gravel deposits and are an attractive place for fish to spawn. These deposits have been shown to wash away in winter storms at a much greater rate than natural streambeds, killing salmon eggs placed in them.

Expanding the State Scenic Waterway system is one way to effectively protect some of Oregon's most spectacular rivers and streams for future generations.  Please support SB 115, SB 307 and SB 401. Thank you.


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