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Locals: Copper Salmon Bill Worth Much More than a ‘Fishy Penny’

November 14, 2007

Medford, OR – Congress has a wild week in store, as a House subcommittee hears testimony on six wilderness bills, including one from Oregon. The "Copper Salmon Wilderness Act" would protect a 12,000-acre parcel of lands and rivers in Southwestern Oregon. Supporters say it's critical to ensure the future of one of the healthiest remaining salmon runs in the United States.

Mike Beagle, with the group Trout Unlimited, says it's also a big economic issue for the region, which would otherwise see a huge tourist drop-off in fall and winter months.

"The fishery has a ripple effect into other areas. If the bill passes, from November all the way through March, Oregon will be getting an injection of money that tourists bring in. That big tourist draw then is big fish."

Beagle explains the Act includes pristine sections of the scenic Elk River in Southwestern Oregon.

"It's great as it is, so let's keep it this way. The Wilderness Act allows us to keep this ground intact while still letting us fish, hunt, and hike in one of Oregon's most beautiful places."

The bill, introduced by Representative Peter DeFazio and Senator Ron Wyden, has the support of local communities and public officials as well as Governor Kulongoski.

Dondrea Warner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - OR