The Bureau of Land Management has temporarily banned new mining claims in several sensitive salmon and steelhead bearing watersheds in southern Oregon and northern California. The affected areas include waters within the Wild and Scenic Rogue and Smith River watersheds and coastal drainages Hunter Creek and the Pistol River in Oregon. Nickel strip mines have been proposed in the area and citizens are concerned about fish health and contaminated drinking water.

Congressmen from both states lauded the move.

“I’m pleased that BLM has agreed to our request to put the mineral withdrawal into the Federal Register,” said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. “That decision ensures there will be a robust process for public input that provides the best path forward to a goal all Oregonians share—ensuring that our state’s remarkable rivers retain their critical role in salmon protection.”

Wyden and three other congressmen from both OR and CA introduced The Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act of 2015 in the senate and house. The act seeks to make the ban permanent. Though the current bill only bans new claims, it would require existing claims to meet stringent environmental standards to continue operations.

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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