A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Thank you for inviting the Department of the Interior to testify on S. 1369, the Molalla River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) supports S. 1369.
The MolallaRiver begins its journey to the sea on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon.At an elevation of 4,800 feet, the Molalla flows undammed for 49 miles west and north until it joins the WillametteRiver.For years, the Molalla suffered from too much negative attention from its visitors, including vandalism.To address these problems, local residents joined together several years ago and formed the Molalla River Alliance (MRA).The MRA, a nonprofit all volunteer organization, has over 45 public and private partners, including Federal, State, and local government agencies, user groups, and conservationists.Working cooperatively with BLM's local field office, the MRA has provided the Molalla the care it needed.Today, we are pleased that this subcommittee is considering designating approximately 21 miles of the river as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The MolallaRiver is home to important natural and cultural resources.Protection of this watershed is crucial as the source of drinking water for local communities and the important spawning habitat it provides for several fish species, including salmon and steelhead.Within an hour's drive of the metropolitan areas of Portland and Salem, Oregon, the Molalla watershed provides significant recreational opportunities for fishing, canoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, hunting, camping, and swimming.A 20-mile hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trail system draws over 65,000 visitors annually.
S. 1369 proposes to designate 15.1 miles of the MolallaRiver and 6.2 miles of the Table Rock Fork of the Molalla as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.In earlier planning analyses, the BLM evaluated the Molalla River and the Table Rock Fork of the Molalla River and determined that most of these two rivers should be considered for designation as wild and scenic rivers.As a result, the designation called for inS. 1369 would be largely consistent with management currently in place, and would cause few changes to BLM's current administration of most of this area.The 5,500-acre Table Rock Wilderness, designated by Congress in 1984, is embraced by the Molalla and Table Rock Fork, and designation of these river segments would reinforce the protections in place for the wilderness area.
Wild and scenic rivers are designated by Congress in one of three categories: wild, scenic, or recreational.Differing management proscriptions apply for each of these designations.S. 1369 specifies that these river segments be classified as recreational.This classification is consistent with the strong recreational values of this area, as well as the presence of roads along the course of the river segments and numerous dispersed campsites along its shorelines.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of these important Oregon designations.The Department of the Interior looks forward to welcoming these units into the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System.