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Oregon Caves To Get More Protection As Bill Moves Through Congress

The River Styx runs through part of the Oregon Caves National Monument. A bill moving through Congress would expand the monument and make the river the first underground stream to be designated as 'Wild and Scenic.'
National Park Service
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The River Styx runs through part of the Oregon Caves National Monument. A bill moving through Congress would expand the monument and make the river the first underground stream to be designated as 'Wild and Scenic.'

A national defense bill expected to pass Congress this session includes a major expansion of Oregon Caves National Monument in Southern Oregon.

The expansion involves a land transfer of 4,070 acres from the Rogue Siskiyou National Forest to the National Park Service.

It also makes the River Styx – which runs through the main cave system in the national monument – the first underground river to receive Wild and Scenic status.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said the expansion has been a long time coming.

"Since the monument was first established almost 100 years ago, the Park Service has been pressing to enlarge the area of the monument to provide for more recreation opportunities and to better protect the assets of the Oregon Caves," DeFazio said. "We have finally gotten that done in this bill."

DeFazio said the Oregon Caves expansion is part of a package of natural resources measures that was included in the National Defense Authorization Act after negotiations with the chairs and ranking members of the House Natural Resources and Senate Energy and Natural Resources committees.

He said expanding the monument will boost the local economy in Southern Oregon by attracting more visitors who will support local businesses.

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Cassandra Profita