For whitewater paddlers, the rivers of Southwestern Oregon and Northwestern California are among the clearest and cleanest water they have ever experienced. They also provide some of the most spectacular whitewater on the planet.
The Illinois River in Oregon and the North Fork Smith River in California flow undammed and unpolluted from their headwaters to the ocean. In addition to being sought after by whitewater paddlers, theses rivers and their tributaries are also the economic backbone of the local recreation economy, are strongholds for endangered salmon, and some provide drinking water for downstream communities.
Two international mining companies are seeking to develop three nickel strip mines in the headwaters of rivers in the region. The EPA has identified the metal mining industry as the largest toxic polluter in the U.S., and if developed, the impacts from these mines on these public lands and wild rivers will be significant and irreversible.
Last week, hundreds of local residents attended public meetings and showed their support for protecting these rivers from new mining activity. We’re calling on river-lovers across the country to join them. With the images of the devastation from the mining spill on the Animas River in Colorado, let’s have the foresight to protect these wild and pristine rivers.
Public agencies are proposing what’s called a “mineral withdrawal” which, contrary to how it sounds, involves stopping new mining activities for five years. You can show your support for this by signing American Whitewater’s petition by September 28th.