Agreement to bring bill back before new Congress has been reached, with passage likely

Pictured is the Molalla River Corridor Recreation Area, which will be impacted by the Oregon Wildlands Act, if passed.It looks like an additional 21 miles of the upper Molalla River is "this close" to being added to the nation's Wild and Scenic river system.

That's the word from Molalla River Alliance President John Atkins, who said that an announcement by Sen. Ron Wyden that an agreement has been secured in Congress to add the 21 miles.

"It was the best Christmas present we could have hoped for," said Atkins. "It has been 10 years since the Molalla River Alliance began advocating for federal Wild and Scenic protection for the upper Molalla River — and 10 years since our Oregon delegation in Congress took up the cause. Thanks to the tireless work of Sen. Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Kurt Schrader, we are now closer than ever to final Congressional approval."

With Congress adjourning for the holidays, time was running out in 2018. But Oregon's senators secured an agreement to reintroduce the public lands legislation that includes the Molalla when the Senate reconvenes in January.

The Molalla River rises in the Table Rock Wilderness and flows 50 miles through basalt formations and lower farmlands before entering the Willamette River. It is the sole source of drinking water for the cities of Canby and Molalla, as well as a hotbed for all types of recreational opportunities.

The Oregon Wildlands Act championed by Sens. Wyden and Merkley would:

Designate 15 miles of the upper Molalla River from Glen Avon Bridge upstream to the Bee Ranch, plus six more miles of the Table Rock Fork as a Wild and Scenic River—protecting it from future development, logging or mining on a permanent basis.

Create a 30,000 acre Devil's Staircase Wilderness in the Oregon Coast Range.

Provide permanent protection for the Chetco River, habitat for endangered salmon, in southern Oregon.

Add 250 miles of salmon and steelhead spawning tributaries of the Rogue River, along with other rivers, to the National Wild and Scenic River System.

Create a Wild Steelhead Special Management area on the North Umpqua River in honor of Oregon conservationist Frank and Jeanne Moore.

Improve efforts by the BLM to protect Crooked River Ranch from catastrophic wildfire by releasing a portion of adjacent acreage designated as a wilderness study area for active management by the BLM.

The Molalla River Alliance is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization working to preserve the water quality of the Molalla, sustain its wildlife, fish and plants, and promote a safe and healthy environment that offers recreational opportunities for all.

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