Senators Wyden and Merkley Introduce Bold Wild and Scenic Rivers Legislation for Oregon Waterways
“Rivers and streams are Oregon’s lifeblood, providing clean drinking water for our families, sustaining our thriving outdoor recreation economy, and nurturing the quality of life that brings new investments, businesses and jobs to our state… Oregonians made it loud and clear: they cherish Oregon’s rivers and want them protected for generations to come. More protected rivers and clear management objectives means more jobs, improved wildfire resiliency and a guarantee for the livability of Oregon. The River Democracy Act represents the best of the Oregon Way, and I looked forward to continuing the conversation with our neighbors.” – Ron Wyden
The wonderful Cascadia Wild organization out of Eugene, Oregon, is excited to share that on February 3, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced the River Democracy Act, which will add 4,700 river miles in Oregon into the Wild and Scenic Rivers system. The proposal will permanently protect waterways across the state, from tributaries of the Snake River in northeast Oregon to unprotected creeks in the Siskiyou Mountains in southwest Oregon and dozens within the Oregon Coast Range and Cascade Mountains.
The River Democracy Act builds on legislation Congress passed in 2019 that added more than 250 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers in Oregon. The state now has 2,173 miles designated in the Wild and Scenic Rivers system, but that total remains only a small fraction of Oregon’s 110,994 miles of rivers and streams.
The effort is the largest of its kind in history and was made possible after over 2,500 Oregonians weighed in with nominations over the past two years.
“This is a bold and forward-thinking proposal that will benefit water quality, our recreation-based economy, and habitat for imperiled salmon,” says Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “Senators Wyden and Merkley are to be commended for their visionary leadership to safeguard our outstanding waterways.”
A copy of the legislation can be found here. A map of the proposed river additions can be found here.