Save the Wild Chetco River

One of the most pristine and wild rivers in our nation under threat in massive timber sale.

Wild and Scenic Chetco River Under Threat

Along the Wild Rivers Coast near the Oregon and California border is one of the wildest, most pristine rivers in the nation: the Wild and Scenic Chetco River. The river is now under threat from a massive timber sale. On the heels of the 2017 Chetco Bar Fire, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing one of the largest timber sales in modern times in one of the nation’s most prized watersheds.


Do right by the river


The Wild Chetco River is at risk from clearcut logging after a 2017 wildfire

If you've ever been to the Chetco River then you know that there is no other place like it on Earth. The Chetco River is world renowned for its clean, emerald green waters. It was designated as a Wild and Scenic River in 1988 for its salmon and steelhead fishery, phenomenal recreational opportunities, including fishing for large salmon and steelhead trout. A large sport and commercial fishing economy is dependent on the clean water of the Chetco River as is the municipal water supply for the City of Brookings.

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Thousands of acres have already been clearcut in the Chetco Watershed on industrial timber lands. 

Here come the log trucks

Timber interests are pushing the U.S. Forest Service to ramp up clearcut logging through one of the biggest timber sales on public land in the Pacific Northwest in modern times. This project would threaten the pristine Chetco River waters with mudslides, sedimentation, and logging pollution. Already, private industrial timber owners have clearcut thousands of acres in the watershed. It is not clear how much more the Chetco River and its wild fisheries can withstand. Contrary to some vocal advocates for extreme logging, research shows that creating more tree plantations will increase the rate and spread of future fires. 

There is a better way

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We can focus public forest management where it will do the most good.

The U.S. Forest Service could focus their logging activities in places that were already logged in the past, and protect the native forests that we have left on public lands. This would prevent the need for more new roads and reduce the amount of sediment that will be produced by running heavy equipment over fragile post-fire soils. By avoiding steep slopes and sensitive areas, the worst impacts can be mitigated. The Forest Service can produce timber volume from logging legitimate roadside hazard trees, and, most importantly, protecting homes and communities from future fire by thinning and creating defensible space.

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Overflights showed that some of the fire was high severity while other  areas burned in a diverse mixed severity mosaic

Chetco Bar Fire: In late summer 2017, a forest fire started in the Upper Chetco drainage. Warm air from the hot interior of the Siskiyou Mountains was blown down the Chetco River Canyon and caused a small fire to grow enormously. Aided by these massive, hot winds, the fire spread into the lower drainage in an area with a mix of timber industry tree plantations, national forest tree plantations, and public old-growth forests.

The fire burned several buildings to the ground, and threatened the town of Brookings for several weeks. It sent a large plume of smoke that impacted local residents, businesses, and sensitive groups. Fire is not uncommon in southern Oregon, but hot and dry summers will become more common with the changing climate and will drive more fire activity like that at Chetco Bar. We need to prepare our communities for fire by thinning around homes, reducing the highly flammable tree plantations, and using more controlled burning.

Learn more about the Chetco Wild and Scenic River