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Senator Wyden Calls for More Wild and Scenic Rivers

For the 51st anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act Senator Ron Wyden has asked for help protecting more of Oregon’s waterways. What a great time for the state’s lesser-know waterways to gain protection!

The Wild and Scenic Crooked River near Bend, Oregon
The Wild and Scenic Crooked River near Bend, Oregon

After all, Oregon boasts 2,173 miles of iconic rivers in the Wild and Scenic program already—the Rogue, Illinois, Owyhee, Deschutes, Clackamas, Snake, John Day, and McKenzie being a few of the better-known. Some 250 of those miles were protected earlier this year.

Wild and Scenic River Protections

In 1968 Congress saw a need to protect and preserve rivers. These rivers had outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition. The creation of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System helps protect and manage our rivers and streams on federal public lands.

“Now is your chance, once again, to speak up for your favorite rivers and highlight the outstanding values that make each river worthy of protection.”Senator Ron Wyden

Gaining Wild and Scenic protection requires a waterway to be free flowing while containing one or more Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORVs). Check out Section 1(b) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to learn more. These ORVs are the driving force that help manage these sections of free flowing rivers.

Oregon’s Current Wild and Scenic Protections

With 68 Wild and Scenic designations Oregon holds the title for “Most River Designations.” However, it is second to Alaska in number of “Most Designated Miles.” This push for new Wild and Scenic protections could give Oregon both titles!

Rough and Ready Creek is an eligible Wild and Scenic River
Rough and Ready Creek is a U.S. Forest Service Candidate Wild and Scenic River

Oregon is currently home to many protected resources such as fisheries, recreation, and botanical resources. There are whitewater rafting and kayaking through out the state. Not to mention hundreds of miles of hiking and backpacking trails. Many people may not even be aware of rare and endemic plant species found through out small pockets of Oregon’s wild lands.

Rivers I Would Like to See Protected

Many of my favorite rivers, like the Rogue and Owyhee River, already have Wild and Scenic protection. However, feeding these wild rivers are their beautiful and unique tributaries which would benefit from additional protection. Without a doubt, Baldface Creek, Rough and Ready Creek, Josephine/Canyon Creeks, Silver Creek, and Indigo Creek are all worthy Wild and Scenic Rivers in their own right. They are all deserving of the highest level of protection.

One of my favorite places to explore is Southwest Oregon’s Kalmiopsis Wilderness as well as the adjoining Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas, with the Kalmiopsis being home to the National Wild and Scenic Illinois, Chetco, and North Fork Smith Rivers. A few years ago, we wanted to see a river system from beginning to end. Our journey took us from the start Rough and Ready Creek, down the Illinois, and Rogue Rivers. Ending the trip at the Rogue and Pacific Ocean confluence in Gold Beach.

How to Submit a River For Consideration

Senator Wyden would like to hear from you! Here’s how you can nominate your favorite river:

  • Make sure it’s not already protected as a National Wild and Scenic River (check our list)
  • Confirm the section of river is free-flowing and has at least one Outstandingly Remarkable Value
  • Submit your suggestions to rivers@wyden.senate.gov

What is your favorite Oregon river? Please let me know your favorite in the comment section below!

Originally Published: | Updated on | Categorized under: River Conservation

Post Author

Michael Hughes

Michael grew up in a small Minnesota town. He spent his days outside in the woods and riding a bike. The only thing that has changed is his location. Oregon is now home and he is still outside, riding a bike, and paddling where ever the water is.

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