BLM Announces Southwest Oregon Withdrawal: More than 100,000 acres of federal lands will be protected to safeguard critical watersheds

Release Date: Jan 12, 2017  

Contact(s): Virginia Gibbons, Public Affairs Officer (541) 618-2113


Portland, OR –The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced today that the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management has signed a public land order for a 20-year term withdrawing lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM in the southwest corner of Oregon, subject to valid existing rights.

This withdrawal includes 95,805 acres of National Forest System lands on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and 5,216 acres of Bureau of Land Management public lands in the Medford and Coos Bay Districts of the BLM. The lands are in Josephine and Curry Counties. The Assistant Secretary’s Order withdraws these lands from settlement, sale, location, and entry under the public land laws, location and entry under the U.S. mining laws, and operation of the mineral and geothermal leasing laws, for a period of 20 years while Congress considers legislation to permanently withdraw those areas.  This action will also protect the natural resources in the southwestern Oregon watersheds from possible adverse effects of mineral development.

This withdrawal does not prohibit or restrict any other authorized uses on these lands. The withdrawal protects these watersheds from possible adverse effects of mineral development. Also, while this action prohibits the location of new mining claims, it does not prohibit ongoing or future mining exploration or extraction operations on valid pre-existing mining claims.

The area covered by this action is generally known as the Klamath Mountains and includes the Rough and Ready-Baldface Creek and the Hunter Creek-North Fork Pistol River subwatersheds of southwestern Oregon.  The defining characteristic of the proposal is the North Fork of the Smith River, which originates in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and drains most of the area under consideration for withdrawal. Creeks that feed into the North Fork and other rivers that flow to the Oregon Coast offer unique ecological features stemming from the confluence of the Coast Range, Cascades, and Siskiyou Mountains. A high concentration of rare plants, forested trails, and scenic views are all emblematic of these drainages. Rough and Ready Creek and Baldface Creek are listed as eligible for National Wild and Scenic River designation by the U.S. Forest Service.

The areas protected include the watershed of the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River in Oregon and the watershed of Rough and Ready Creek. These rivers are known for their wild salmon and steelhead populations, and provide vital economic, recreation and natural resources to the area.

Additional information about the BLM’s mineral program is available online at: www.blm.gov.