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Take Action for Oregon's South Umpqua!

Posted: 03/23/2018
by Megan Hooker

Time is running out for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) to consider the South Umpqua for designation as a State Scenic Waterway, but it’s not too late. Your voice can help support the agency in taking steps to protect this river in 2018.

Last year OPRD began to evaluate three rivers for eligibility in the State Scenic Waterway system (South Umpqua from the Castle Rock Fork to Tiller, Nehalem, and Santiam), but put the process on hold for all but the Nehalem. We applaud the efforts of the agency relating to the Nehalem, and believe that the South Umpqua is equally deserving of consideration for protection as a State Scenic Waterway in 2018.

The South Umpqua between Camp Comfort to S. Umpqua Falls and S. Umpqua Falls to Boulder Creek Campground (a.k.a “Three Falls Run”) is a ~13 mile Class II to IV+ run through scenic, forests with mellow stretches in between fun slides and several several big, clean drops. The river has excellent water quality and supports native salmon runs. With its free-flowing waters and exceptional scenic, natural and recreational values, it meets the criteria for designation as a State Scenic Waterway.

In nearly 30 years, Oregon has only added two rivers to the State Scenic Waterway Program (the Chetco and the Molalla) and today, less than 1% of the state’s waterways are protected as State Scenic Waterways. OPRD evaluates three rivers every two years, and American Whitewater supports OPRD in moving forwad with its evaluation of the South Umpqua in 2018. 

What Does A State Scenic Waterway Designation Do? 

A State Scenic Waterway designation protects the outstanding scenic, fish, wildlife, geological, botanical, historic, archaeologic, and outdoor recreation values of a river for current and future generations. The program proclaims that the highest and best uses of the waters designated as State Scenic Waterways are recreation, fish and wildlife uses.

Similar to federal Wild and Scenic protection, a State Scenic Waterway designation keeps a river freely-flowing by prohibiting dam construction. Additionally, those who want to perform certain development activities within the corridor (such as mining or logging) need to consult with OPRD to ensure that their proposal will not harm a river’s scenic, natural and recreational values.

Your voice is needed to help encourage OPRD to do the right thing and evaluate whether the South Umpqua is eligible for protection as a State Scenic Waterway. Send them a message today sharing why protecting the South Umpqua is important to you and urging them to take the steps needed to ensure that the river will be considered for designation in 2018.
For more information about the State Scenic Waterways program, visit
Photo: Courtesy of Priscilla Macy and Jacob Cruser

Associated Rivers

Umpqua, South OR