The U.S. Forest Service wants to stop new gold mining claims on the Chetco River in southwestern Oregon while Congress considers legislation that would permanently raise the level of protection for salmon and steelhead habitat.

The U.S. Forest Service wants to stop new gold mining claims on the Chetco River in southwestern Oregon while Congress considers legislation that would permanently raise the level of protection for salmon and steelhead habitat.

The process would not stop Seattle developer Dave Rutan from going forward on existing claims on portions of the river on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

But Forest Service geologist Robert Fujimoto says it would raise the bar, forcing Rutan to prove there is something worth mining to develop claims along sections of the river protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

If the ban is approved, Congress would have two years to consider legislation making it permanent.

— The Associated Press