Victory! Defending the Wild and Scenic Rogue River

In 2016 the Bureau of Land Management recognized that the middle section of the Rogue River in Oregon—sandwiched between protected segments downstream from Crater Lake National Park, and upstream of the famed Blossom Bar rapids—is also deserving of protection as a federal Wild and Scenic River. Among other things, the BLM noted that this 63-mile segment of the Rogue contains “outstandingly remarkable” recreational and fish values, including providing the only habitat in the river for an imperiled run of wild spring Chinook.

The segment flows through three areas that were once blocked by the Savage Rapids, Gold Ray, and Gold Hill dams. Now that the fishing and whitewater communities have succeeded in having all three dams removed, the Rogue flows freely for over 200 miles, from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Nonetheless, landowners such as gravel pit operators filed suit to oppose the BLM’s recognition, because they wanted to continue to mine gravel, erect embankments, or otherwise modify the river for commercial gain. On behalf of Rogue Riverkeeper, American Rivers, and Stuart Warren, a local licensed fishing guide, we argued in court to defend the BLM’s decision and protect this great river.

In a victory for the Wild and Scenic Rogue, in January 2018, the court dismissed the case and the Rogue will maintain its 200-mile free flow.

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Photo by Finetooth.