Hearing on North Fork Smith River

February 21, 2017 - 3:00 PM
DEQ Headquarters, 3rd Floor
700 NE Multnomah St.
Portland, OR

North Fork Smith River.  Photo by J.R. Weir.
North Fork Smith River. Photo by J.R. Weir.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is considering the designation of the North Fork Smith River, along with its tributaries and wetlands, as “Outstanding Resource Waters” of the state under Oregon’s anti-degradation regulations under the federal Clean Water Act.  This could be a very important level of protection, because the North Fork Smith River is threatened by a foreign-owned mining company that wants to develop a nickel laterite strip mine on about 2700 acres of National Forest in the Oregon half of the North Fork’s pristine watershed.  (The river continues into California.)

The public is invited to comment at a hearing to be held Tuesday, February 21, at 3 p.m. in DEQ’s Portland headquarters, 700 N.E. Multnomah St., 3rd Floor.  Citizens can also participate via teleconference call. Teleconference call -in number: 888-363-4734; teleconference participant ID: 1910322. 

In formal terms, DEQ is considering proposed permanent rule amendments to Chapter 340 of the Oregon Administrative Rules.  DEQ is proposing changes to OAR 340, Division 41 that will declare the North Fork Smith and tributaries to be Outstanding Resource Waters and therefore establish policies to ensure no degradation to the water quality or ecological values and characteristics of the river system.  This would be the first time this special designation has been put into use. 

For more information, go to the DEQ’s website.  There you will find links to background information on the hearing; a portal for submitting written comments online (through February 28); a link to a webinar if you would prefer to participate that way; and instructions for using either the teleconference or webinar modes.