Just seven miles upstream from River Steward Dave Lacey’s home in southern Oregon a foreign owned mining company was quietly working to develop a nickel strip mine on public lands. The mine would sit in the headwaters of two important wild salmon and steelhead streams.
From Zangs Films: Learning about the poor environmental track record of the hard rock mining industry (the most toxic polluting industry in the United States) Dave and the Native Fish Society’s staff embarked on a three year campaign that ultimately sought to stop not one, but three proposed strip mines before they could irreversibly damage some of the wildest country, cleanest water, and healthiest wild salmon rivers on the west coast.
Working with his local community, Dave canvassed his watershed going door to door with a petition against the mine, (later joined by River Stewards James Smith and Sunny Bourdon) they worked with the Native Fish Society to host events raising awareness about the mines in their rural communities, built local business and brewery coalitions to weigh in during public comment opportunities, gained the support of local city councils and their county commissioners, rallied hundreds of neighbors to turn out to pivotal public hearings, and flooded the public agencies and decision makers with over 64,000 supportive comments.
Thanks to this immense and wide ranging support, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio and senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation for permanent protections and secured the maximum protections the Department of the Interior can provide to discourage mining — a 20-year mineral withdrawal safeguarding 101,000 acres of public lands. Signed in 2017, this mineral withdrawal will not only help protect these public lands, it also protects the salmon studded rivers and communities found downstream.
The Native Fish Society is a truly grassroots organization and it is individuals like you that enable their community of River Stewards to protect their homewaters. If their work inspires you to become more involved please feel free to check out their website to learn more: nativefishsociety.org