Bills would protect Oregon river, caves, forest

Bills would protect Oregon river, caves, forest
Don't expect to get here on a day hike.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A package of bills in Congress would make it harder to mine for gold on a salmon stream in southwestern Oregon, expand the Oregon Caves National Monument, and give federal wilderness protection to the biggest remaining piece of old growth forest in the Coast Range.

The bills were introduced Thursday by Oregon Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Peter DeFazio.

Conservationists have been trying to increase protections for the Chetco River on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest since a developer started trying to develop some gold mining claims there.

They also want to increase the land protected from logging around the Oregon Caves by transferring 4,000 acres from a national forest.

The Devil's Staircase Wilderness bill would cover 30,000 acres on the Siuslaw National Forest.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.