Protect Coho Salmon from Mining Operations in Oregon National Forests

Target: U.S. Forest Service

Goal: Protect Coho salmon by stopping further mining projects in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Precious metal mining in Oregon and Northern California National Forests is endangering wildlife, habitat and a threatened unit of wild Coho salmon. The conservation groups Cascadia Wildlands Project, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Rogue Riverkeeper have filed a federal suit challenging the Forest Service’s decision to allow this destructive mining operation.

Suction-dredge placer mining damages waterways and habitat throughout the 1.8 million acres of National Forest in Northern California and Oregon by removing the cobble layer of stream beds and sending unstable dredge tailings downstream.

These tailings cause the salmon to reproduce in unstable, dangerous conditions where water is also clouded by mining. The Forest Service did not consult the National Marine Fisheries Service about risks to endangered species, as required by the Endangered Species Act, before permitting mining. The Southern California Northern Oregon unit of wild Coho Salmon was reported at risk of extinction in 1997 and dredge mining noted as a primary threat.

This case reflects a similar one recently brought to the fore by the Karuk Tribe, which found the Forest Service responsible for not consulting with wildlife experts before allowing gold mining. Please demand that the Forest Service reconsider its decision to allow dangerous mining in National Forests, and prioritize the protection of the Coho and other wildlife.


Dear U.S. Forest Service,

Wild Coho salmon, along with habitat and other wildlife in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest are seriously threatened by precious metal mining in the waterways of this area. Conservation groups are suing you for not consulting with National Marine Fisheries Service before allowing mining.

The Forest Service lost a similar case in June, when the Karuk Tribe argued that they had not adequately assessed risks before beginning mining operations, and that mining was endangering already threatened salmon species. The Southern Oregon Northern California unit of wild Coho salmon is an evolutionary important group, which was listed as threatened in 1997.

Stream beds are being damaged and water quality compromised by the mining operation known as suction-dredge placer mining. This method disrupts or removes stream cobble layers and sends dangerous dredge tailings downstream, in addition to clouding the water. Such conditions make it dangerous for salmon to reproduce.

Please consult with National Marine Fisheries Service and assess the risks of mining to salmon and other wildlife in Oregon and California National Forests, and instead of allowing destructive mining to continue, focus on protecting important habitat and species.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Lee Coursey via Flickr

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  1. Wake up, American representatives and officials, time’s running out for changing your policies. Start listening to your people.

  2. Fran Fulwiler says:

    The national forests belong to the American people, whose interest in protecting our wild lands and species must take priority over the financial interests of mining companies.

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