Oregon Caves and Devil’s Staircase Protection Bills Pass Energy Committee

Washington, D.C. – Marking another milestone in the fight to protect Oregon’s natural resources for future generations, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) announced that a pair of bills designed to provide protections for two of Oregon’s greatest natural resources have been approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, paving the way for consideration by the entire U.S. Senate.

Senator Wyden chairs the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, with primary jurisdiction over wilderness legislation.

“With today’s passage of these bills, we’ve reached an important milestone toward preserving some of Oregon’s most treasured wild areas,” said Wyden. “There is plenty of work ahead, but today we have made a very good start.”

“Thanks to Ron Wyden’s leadership in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, we are one step closer to preserving some of the most treasured natural areas in Oregon,” said Merkley.  “These bills include vital protections for our salmon, steelhead and trout and ensure future generations of Oregonians will benefit from the beauty and from the tourism dollars these natural areas provide.”

The Oregon Caves legislation expands the boundaries of the century old national monument by transferring roughly 4,000 acres from the National Forest Service to the National Park Service and designating the land as a Natural Preserve. Setting aside this additional land will increase tourism to the largest marble cave open to the public west of the Continental Divide and encourage ecological forest restoration. The legislation also gives a scenic designation to the River Styx that travels through the caves, the nation’s first such distinction for an underground waterway.

The Devil’s Staircase legislation designates approximately 30,000 acres of the Siuslaw National Forest as a wilderness area and protects roughly 14 miles of the Wasson and Franklin creeks. The Wilderness designation will preserve native coho and chinook salmon, trout, and steelhead runs as well as protect the habitats of wildlife like the black bear, elk, and river otter.