Cedar Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the Smith River. Photograph by Jolyon Walkley.

In late July, the Smith River National Recreation Area Expansion Act cleared a key hurdle when it was voted out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on a bipartisan vote.

The bill is now eligible for a vote by the full Senate, or perhaps equally important may be eligible for inclusion in any late session Public Lands Bill Initiative. The bill is a significant opportunity to expand protection for the North Fork of the Smith River in Oregon.

“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,” said Jeff Merkley, Oregon U.S. Senator. “Expanding the Smith River National Recreation Area is a commonsense win-win-win for our economy, adventurers across the Northwest, and those dedicated to preserving the ecosystems that make Oregon so special. I’m grateful to all of the local leaders, conservationists, and businesses who have been a part of this process so far, and I look forward to continuing to work together to get this bill signed into law.”

“The expansion of the Smith River National Recreation Area completes a conservation effort initiated over thirty years ago,” said Grant Werschkull, Co-Executive Director for Smith River Alliance. “This expansion is vitally important to downstream communities and the Smith River as a stronghold for Pacific salmon species.”

The Smith River National Recreation Expansion Act will expand the Smith River National Recreation Area into Oregon by 58,000 acres and designate 75 miles of North Fork Smith River tributaries as Wild and Scenic Rivers, a move that would protect the diverse ecosystems of the entire watershed. Other elements of the legislation include a permanent mineral withdrawal and recreation planning effort across the addition, and a special study of streams, fens, wetlands and vulnerable aquatic habitat areas.

Read the full press release by Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden here

Help us by signing our petition to expand the Smith River National Recreation Area here.