article photo 2

TAKE ACTION!! Protect OR's NF Smith Watershed!

Posted: 09/15/2016
By: Megan Hooker

The Oregon Water Resources Department recently proposed a new rule that will protect the instream uses of the Smith River and its tributaries. The rule is a critical step in proactively safeguarding the fish, wildlife, and recreation uses of the waters of the Smith River watershed in Oregon from ill-advised water development such as large-scale mining proposals. The agency is requesting public comment by 5 p.m. on October 28th, and we encourage you to weigh in!

The North Fork Smith River and Baldface Creek in particular are legendary among river runners for their high quality whitewater, exceptional water quality, and the remote experiences they provide. These waters also provide pristine habitat for world-class salmon fisheries, supply drinking water for downstream communities, and draw visitors from around the world. Small businesses along the Wild Rivers Coast–from Port Orford to Northern California–all rely on the Smith’s clean waters.

The Smith River is truly an extraordinary place. The vast majority (99%) of the Smith River watershed in Oregon lies on Forest Service lands, mostly within the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area and two Inventoried Roadless Areas, and has been identified as critical for recovering salmon and trout populations. The remaining 1% of non-Forest-Service land is publicly held by the State of Oregon. There currently are no competing water uses. Additionally, the instream values of the North Fork Smith and its tributaries are nationally recognized. Congress designated the North Fork Smith as a National Wild and Scenic River for its outstanding water quality, fishery and scenic values, and the Forest Service found Baldface Creek–an important tributary–eligible for inclusion in the Wild and Scenic system.


We need your help to ensure that the waters of the Smith River watershed in Oregon stay where they belong–in the river! The Oregon Water Resources Department's proposed rule would do this by classifying them for instream uses. The agency is accepting public comment on their proposed rule through 5:00 p.m. October 28th.

Paddler's voices are important in this process, especially if you've paddled these rivers and have stories to share, or would like to one day. We’ve made it easy for you to comment here.

You can also send your comment via e-mail to:, or via regular mail to: Rule Coordinator, Oregon Water Resources Department, 725 Summer St. NE, Suite A, Salem, OR 97301-1271. (Note that comments sent via hardcopy need to arrive by 5 p.m. on October 28th.)

For more information on the rulemaking, visit the ORWD's Rulemaking Page and scroll down to Division 517, South Coast Basin Program. For questions about the rulemaking, contact Diana Enright, Rule Coordinator at (503) 986-0874, or via email at:


Thanks to Nate Wilson for the photo!

Associated Rivers

Baldface Creek OR
Smith, N. Fork CA

Associated Projects

Kalmiopsis Rivers (OR/CA)

American Whitewater is working to protect the wild rivers of Southwestern Oregon and Northern California from the threats of nickel strip mines.

Smith River (CA/OR)

The Smith River is known for exceptional water quality and is free flowing from the headwaters to the ocean.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!