Dear Members and Supporters,
Flowing from Southwest Oregon's rugged Kalmiopsis Wilderness is the exceptionally pure, blue-green waters of the North Fork Smith River. These waters are home to a diverse array of wild, native fish species and supply drinking water for downstream communities.
In honor of these remarkable waters the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has proposed designating the North Fork Smith River, all of its tributaries and associated wetlands as "Outstanding Resource Waters" under the Clean Water Act!
With your help, this action will protect the waters that support wild steelhead, coho salmon, fall chinook salmon, rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. Right now, DEQ is accepting comments on this designation, and you can show your support by submitting comments below!
About the North Fork Smith River & Outstanding Resource Waters Designation
The North Fork Smith River is home to one of the most unique populations of Southern Oregon/ Northern California coho salmon, which are currently protected under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts. Unlike most of their counterparts, the wild coho salmon returning to the North Fork of the Smith endure steep rapids and a long journey to reach their homewaters found high in Baldface Creek. Additionally, the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith is home to abundant and diverse populations of winter steelhead, fall Chinook, resident rainbow trout and both resident and sea-run cutthroat trout. All of these wild, native fish depend on the North Fork’s remarkably clean water and intact habitats for their survival.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is currently soliciting comments for a proposed rulemaking that will recognize the North Fork Smith River’s exceptional water quality in order to prevent degradation and protect critical habitats for threatened species.
If awarded an Outstanding Resource Waters designation, the clear, cold waters of the North Fork Smith River and its tributaries and wetlands would preserve the integrity of one of the most pristine and unchanged headwaters ecosystems in the county. There is no private land in this remote portion of the watershed, and the vast majority of land is located within the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, two Inventoried Roadless Areas, and the remaining 1% of non-Forest Service land is publicly held by the State of Oregon.
In addition, the designation will protect the drinking, municipal and irrigation water supplies for downstream communities, and help sustain the growing recreation-based economy that the “Wild Rivers Coast” supports.
Thank you for submitting comments to the Environmental Quality Commission and for your effort to help protect this important resource.
For wild fish and outstanding waters,
Jake Crawford, Southern Regional Manager
Sunny Bourdon, Smith & Chetco River Steward
Mark Sherwood, Executive Director