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Enforcement

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WWD Enforcement 233Enforcement is a cornerstone of environmental protection, central to achieving our goals of clean water. Rogue Riverkeeper's enforcement oversight and litigation are designed to ensure that our nation's water quality laws are not ignored, whether by the polluters themselves or by those agencies charged with protecting our rivers.

When necessary, Rogue Riverkeeper goes to court to ensure activities that impact our streams are adhering to the Clean Water Act and other laws. Please visit this page frequently for updates on all our cases and campaigns.

Benton Mine: In 2009, we sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue under the Clean Water Act to the Benton Mine, which is located on a tributary of the Lower Wild and Scenic Rogue River and was the largest operating underground gold mine in Oregon. The mine operators had filled in a creek to use as a sludge pond and had been out of compliance with their Clean Water Act permits for more than a decade. The State of Oregon shut down the mine prior to Rogue Riverkeeper filing suit due to other illegal problems at the site. The owners are looking for new operators to re-open the mine.

Rogue navigability: Protecting public rights to access Oregon’s navigable rivers and streams is an important piece of clean water advocacy. In 2008, Rogue Riverkeeper joined Northwest Steelheaders and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center by intervening in support of the state of Oregon in their navigability determination concerning an 89-mile stretch of the stunningly beautiful Rogue River. Click here for a helpful background factsheet developed by the Oregon Department of State Lands. Thanks to Portland attorney Thane Tienson for representing us in this matter.

Gold Mining on the Wild and Scenic Chetco: A Seattle-based developer bought mining claims on approximately 24 miles of the Wild and Scenic Chetco River with plans to helicopter people in to suction dredge this epic river for gold. The developer has filed applications with the Forest Service to mine and we are in close contact with state and federal agencies to ensure they are proceeding in accordance with all environmental laws.

Suction Dredging Permit: In 2010, DEQ released a Clean Water Act permit for suction dredging in Oregon. This general permit, known as “700PM,” is too weak to protect water quality and fish from the impacts of suction dredging. We commented on the draft and with the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, filed suit against the final permit for its failure to adequately protect aquatic resources. We are being represented by the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center.

Sucker Creek Mining: This salmon stronghold in the Illinois sub-basin has suffered from historic mining impacts and continues to be a center of mining activity in the Rogue Basin. In 2009, Clifford Tracy was arrested, and later convicted, for illegally mining in Sucker Creek on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. In 2010, we filed suit against another miner for harming the Sucker Creek floodplain and critical habitat for Coho salmon without requisite Clean Water Act permits. We are being represented by Crag Law Center and Bahr Law Offices.

LNG development: The Jordan Cove/Pacific Connector Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project would build an import facility in Coos Bay and a 235-mile pipeline to California. The pipeline would cross 379 waterbodies in the Coos, Coquille, Umpqua, Rogue and Klamath watersheds and harm dozens of threatened species including Coho salmon. We are prepared to file suit against federal approval of this project and are engaged in various state and federal permitting processes. We are being represented by the Western Environmental Law Center.

Brophy development: Riverside development has a variety of aquatic impacts, especially when there is no riparian ordinance in place, as is the case in the town of Shady Cove in the Upper Rogue. In 2009, a developer acquired one of the last tracks of undeveloped riverside property in Shady Cove that was zoned public and intended as a public park, but filed a land use application to re-zone the property and build riverfront homes. Rogue Riverkeeper, alongside Rogue Flyfishers and individual residents of Shady Cove, testified regarding the rezoning application for the "Brophy" property, and flagged problems with various state and federal laws. The Shady Cove City Council voted against the land use application request in December 2010 and the developer filed an appeal to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). Rogue Riverkeeper and Rogue Flyfishers intervened in the LUBA appeal on behalf of the City of Shady Cove to protect the values of the Rogue River and its riparian resources. We are being represented by Jan Wilson of the Western Environmental Law Center.

Gravel mining: Rogue Riverkeeper is engaged in the Regional General Permit (RGP) for gravel mining in the Chetco River and is preparing for the same RGP process for the Rogue Basin in 2011 and 2012. Individual gravel mining operations continue to pose threats to the Rogue estuary, including Tidewater’s Mill Site upstream from Gold Beach. Rogue Riverkeeper is engaged in permitting processes at the county, state and federal level to ensure these operations are minimizing aquatic impacts.

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