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Devil's dilemma

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High Five
Monday, June 08, 2009

A Coast Range paradise gives hikers a glimpse of well preserved nature, and conservationists hope to keep it that way. The area around the Devil's Staircase falls sports no paths and sees perhaps 100 visitors a year. And it's the uniqueness of this old-growth forest that naturalists want to preserve.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio is one of the few hearty souls to have navigated his way through the brush-choked canyons and laid eyes on Wassen Creek, which winds its way from headwaters at Lake Wassen 17 miles to the Smith River, a few miles north of Reedsport. DeFazio called his 2007 trip into the wilderness “the hardest hike I’ve ever been on. I was on my hands and knees getting up to the first ridge. It’s a wild spot, and yes, it should be designated as wilderness.”

In the next few weeks, DeFazio said, he plans to introduce a bill to declare the staircase a federal wilderness area and to deem Wassen and Franklin Creeks wild and scenic rivers, which would make the region off-limits to logging and other impacts. He’s optimistic it will sail through Congress.

Read the full story in The Register-Guard.

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