Nominees include Rogue River, Devil's Staircase, Cathedral Rock, Horse Heaven

Gov. John Kitzhaber has nominated four Oregon natural areas for federal wilderness protection, as part of the Obama administration's Crown Jewels initiative. The administration hopes to add wilderness designations to lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

Kitzhaber proposed adding areas in and around the wild and scenic stretch of the Rogue River in Southern Oregon; Devil's Staircase, in the Coast Range west of Eugene; and Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven, along the John Day River in north center Oregon.

Environmental groups, including Oregon Wild and the Sierra Club applauded Kitzhaber's move.

According to Oregon Wild, Oregon lags behind its West Coast neighbors when it comes to federal wilderness protection, the highest level of protection for public lands. The group calculates that 15% of California is designated as federal wilderness, vs. 10 percent of Washington and 4 percent of Oregon.

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