June is National Rivers Month!

Metolius River Wizard Falls in Oregon by Daniel White
Wizard Falls by Daniel White

Celebrate and Stand Up for Oregon Rivers This National Rivers Month

June is a special time in Oregon. This month marks the end of the school year, the opening of campgrounds and higher elevation trails, and the beginning of outdoor summertime adventures. June is also National Rivers Month–a month to celebrate the incredible, wild, life-providing rivers across our nation and advocate for their protection and restoration. 

Oregon has more than its fair share of treasured rivers. From the turbulent rapids of the Deschutes, to the famous wild Rogue, the seemingly endless desert canyonlands of the Owyhee and John Day, and coastal rivers home to majestic, yet threatened, salmon and steelhead populations, Oregon rivers are as diverse as they are spectacular. Locals and visitors flock to these rivers to raft them, fish them, and hike along them, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and a $15 billion dollar outdoor recreation economy in Oregon. Rivers mean life–for the businesses that depend on them, the communities that source drinking water from them, the people who cherish them, and the fish and wildlife who call them home.  

For me, June means camping along the banks of the Metolius and casting green drake fly patterns to wild trout. For a few weeks in late-May and June (and again in the fall), masses of these large olive-colored mayflies will hatch into their adult form, sending any nearby trout into a feeding frenzy. If timed right, this hatch can provide a memorable day of fly fishing, the kind that attracts anglers from all over the world. Even for those who aren’t anglers, this hatch, with clouds of drakes emerging from the water and dozens of fish rising to greet them at any one time, is a spectacle that will bring awe to any who experience it. If you need proof that rivers are alive, this is it. 

While Oregon’s rivers provide unrivaled opportunities like this to experience nature and a functioning ecosystem, they also face urgent threats. Aggressive logging, climate change, mining, road construction, and development are among the most pressing issues. These threats pose risks to the many important values Oregon’s rivers provide, such as clean drinking water, critical fish and wildlife habitat, cultural uses, health and well-being, and world-renowned outdoor recreation. A 2022 report from the Environmental Integrity Project even found that Oregon has the most miles of impaired streams and rivers of any other state in the U.S., meaning those streams and rivers do not meet water quality standards for consumption, recreation, or aquatic life. 

Take Action for Oregon’s Rivers

The River Democracy Act

Fortunately, Senator Ron Wyden’s River Democracy Act presents us an opportunity to conserve many of our state’s threatened streams. This historic bill proposes to add over 3200 miles of Oregon rivers and streams from all corners of the state to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System, ensuring these waterways are permanently protected for nature and future generations. Become a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the River Democracy Act and tell Senators Wyden and Merkley to get this bill passed through Congress!

Join an Oregon Wild-led Hike this Summer to an Oregon River

Watch Our Recent Webcast on Restoring Oregon’s Rivers

Liz Perkin with Native Fish Society joined us in May to talk about the impacts logging, dam construction, stream channelization, flood protection, and development have had on Oregon’s rivers and native fish populations, and current ongoing restoration efforts to reverse that damage. 

Watch the webcast here. 

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