With the March 12 signing of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, President Trump authorized designation of the Devils Staircase Wilderness and three Wild and Scenic rivers on the Siuslaw National Forest, along with number of other land conservation actions across the country. These Congressional designations recognize the unique value and wild character of these special places and protect them in perpetuity.
Covering over 30,000 acres, Devils Staircase Wilderness is a remote and rugged pocket of national forest east of Reedsport, OR. Wasson and Franklin creeks, which received two of the river designations, flow through the area on their way to the Umpqua River. The area has no trails nor official access points. The challenging terrain and decades-ago acknowledgement that the area was unsuitable for timber production is why Devils Staircase is one of the few remaining old growth refuges in the Oregon Coast Range. This pristine tract of forest provides outstanding habitat for northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and coastal Coho salmon, all federally threatened species, along with other fish and wildlife.
“The Forest Service long ago recognized the ecological importance this area has in Coast Range,” said Robert Sanchez, Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor. “With the new wilderness and wild and scenic designations, we will continue to manage this area as we have been, with a light touch that promotes the natural processes at work there and with minimal sign of man’s influence.”
The third Wild and Scenic River designation is a portion of the Nestucca River which flows through the north end of the Siuslaw National Forest on the Hebo Ranger District.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 established a legal definition of wilderness and created a means by which Congress can ensure the wild character of special places will be preserved for future generations. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 established a tool for ensuring rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, or recreational value remain free-flowing, and that protections are in place to preserve the values for which it was designated, for the enjoyment by future generations.