Today is a historic day for conservation as the largest public lands bill in a decade has been signed into law. The bill was a sweeping show of bipartisanship, broadly passing both the House (363-62) and Senate (92-8). It was signed by President Trump just hours ago, making this a day of celebration as more than a million new acres of lands will be protected for the future generations of Americans.
The most important provision in the bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which allocates fees and royalties paid by offshore oil and gas drilling companies to fund onshore conservation programs.
The LWCF has been the major resource to fund land acquisition within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, further establishing connectivity and biodiversity protection throughout the region.
Oregon sees major gains in land conservation through the Public Lands Bill. The act creates a new wilderness area in Oregon: the Devil's Staircase Wilderness in the Coast Range. It also includes permanent protections for 280 miles of Oregon rivers through National Wild and Scenic River destinations.
Of the new Wild and Scenic River designations, the bill includes protecting 18 miles of Jenny Creek, which flows along the eastern border of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. This is heartening news for the endemic Jenny Creek sucker and redband trout that thrive here.
Under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, designated rivers are safeguarded from development for their current and future "natural, cultural, and recreational values."
Oregon now leads the nation as the state holding the most waterways with Wild & Scenic designations.
- Written by Shannon Browne, Executive Director of Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.