Merkley Co-Sponsors Legislation to Protect Wilderness Areas

Washington, DC – Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has
co-sponsored legislation to protect some of Oregon’s most scenic natural areas
while helping boost local tourism and increase recreation opportunities. 
The legislation would expand the protection of the Oregon Caves National
Monument and some of Oregon’s ancient old growth forest situated along the
Oregon Coast.

“We’ve made great strides this year enhancing protections
for Oregon’s wilderness areas by passing the Public Lands bill,” said
Merkley.  “Now we have an opportunity to build on those successes by
enacting legislation that will further safeguard Oregon’s treasured old growth
forests and the Oregon Caves National Monument.  I am proud to co-sponsor
legislation that will stimulate economic growth and invigorate recreation
activities as well as ensure that these wilderness areas can be enjoyed by
future generations. “

The Oregon Caves bill will add approximately 4,070 acres to
the Oregon Caves National Monument, preserving its natural resources and
protecting the associated drinking water from harmful pollutants.  The
Devil’s Staircase legislation will designate approximately 29,650 acres of the
Siuslaw National Forest as a protected wilderness area, helping preserve old growth
forests and the endangered species that inhabit the area.  The bills are
sponsored by Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio in the House and Senator Ron
Wyden in the Senate.

“Oregonians have been blessed to be able to enjoy these wild
areas and benefit from the tourism economy they provide.   We have a
responsibility to preserve these iconic special places and the habitats that
surround them, which is exactly what this legislation does,” said Merkley.