5 Quick Facts on Oregon's Big Wild & Scenic River Anniversary

Your Favorite Oregon River is (probably) Celebrating 30 Years of Wild and Scenic Protections!

On October 28th, Oregon’s most iconic rivers (not named the Columbia or Willamette) will be celebrating 30 years of Wild and Scenic River designation! 

Here are 5 quick facts on the “conservation birthday” of these fantastic waterways.

Kayaking the Metolius by Leon Werdinger
Oregon's Metolius River
Photo by Leon Werdinger

1 - While the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month, most of the Oregon rivers weren't designated until 1988 when the Omnibus Oregon Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed Congress.

2 - Over 41 Oregon river segments received designations, including: 

Clackamas
Chetco
North Fork Crooked
Deschutes
Grande Ronde
Imnaha
John Day
Lostine

McKenzie
Metolius
North Umpqua
upper Rogue
Salmon
Sandy
White
Sprague

3 - Former Republican Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon was the chief sponsor of the bill that was ultimately signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. We hope the future holds a return to bipartisan efforts to protect our cherished rivers.

4 - Designation as a "Wild and Scenic River" prevents dam building, some types of mining, aggressive logging, and other types of development harmful to waterways. It includes a quarter mile buffer of protection on each side of the river, though in some rare cases that buffer can be up to a half a mile. Oregon's Wild and Scenic River designations have preserved world-class recreational rafting and hiking, clean drinking water, and helped safeguard critical habitat for salmon and other wildlife. 

5 - Today, Oregon has a total of 1,900 miles of protected rivers. Unfortunately, that represents just under 2% of all Oregon rivers. Senators Wyden and Merkley recently advanced legislation out of a key committee that would add protection for an additional 250+ miles of rivers including the Molalla, Nestucca, tributaries to the Rogue and Elk, and more. 

Interactive map of proposed river protections

Oregon's Wild and Scenic Timeline (Graph)

More information on Oregon's Wild and Scenic Rivers

River by river information at Rivers.gov

Map of Oregon's Wild and Scenic Rivers

Photo Credits: 
White River Canyon by James Armstrong