Expansion would protect the Oregon section of the Smith River watershed and its unique plants and wildlife, boost local recreation economy

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today introduced legislation to expand the Smith River National Recreation Area by 58,000 acres a move that would protect the diverse ecosystems of the rivers, streams, and adjacent lands of the North Fork Smith River watershed and help boost the local fishing and recreation industries that many Oregon families rely on. The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

In 1990, Congress enacted legislation to establish the Smith River National Recreation Area (NRA) to protect the watershed, but the boundary of the NRA stopped at the Oregon border, leaving the North Fork of the Smith River and its tributaries unprotected.

“When we come together to protect our state’s natural wonders, we can create jobs, protect resources, grow our economy, and make sure future generations of Oregonians can enjoy our incredible public lands,” Merkley said. “I’m grateful to have had the partnership of local leaders, conservationists, and businesses as well as my colleagues in creating this legislation expanding the Smith River National Recreation Area—a commonsense win-win for adventurers across the Northwest, those interested in preserving the beautiful places in Oregon, and Southern Oregon’s economy.”