Take Action for Oregon's Nehalem, SF Umpqua and NF Santiam!
By: Evan Stafford
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is seeking your input on a proposal to protect a 17-mile section of the Nehalem River under the State Scenic Waterway Program. 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. The reach under consideration runs from the Henry Pierson Spruce Run Campground to the boundary of Cougar Valley State Park near Cook Creek Road and provides a Class II-III whitewater run with old-growth forests, scenic waterfalls, and salmon runs.
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 (such as mining or logging) within the corridor need to consult with OPRD to ensure that their proposal will not harm a river’s scenic, natural and recreational values.
In nearly 30 years, Oregon has only added two rivers to the Program (the Chetco and the Molalla) and today, less than 1% of the state’s waterways are protected as State Scenic Waterways. The current process is that every two years, OPRD will consider three additional rivers for protection. Earlier this year, OPRD also committed to evaluating sections of the South Fork Umpqua (Castle Rock Fork to Tiller, including Camp Comfort to S. Umpqua Falls and S. Umpqua Falls to Boulder Creek Campground and the North Fork Santiam (from the Wilderness Boundary to Bruno Mountain road) under the State Scenic Waterway Program.
OPRD is in the early stages of the evaluation process for the Nehalem, and they want to hear what you value about that river. Your comments can also help encourage the agency to continue to evaluate whether to protect the South Fork Umpqua and North Fork Santiam.
We’ve made it easy for you to weigh in HERE!. You can also send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or via regular mail to OPRD Scenic Waterway Study, 725 Summer St NE Suite C, Salem, OR 97301. The deadline to provide comment has been extended to November 1st, and we encourage you to weigh in!
For more information about the State Scenic Waterways program, visit http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/NATRES/scenicwaterways/Pages/index.aspx
Photo: Courtesy of Priscilla Macy and Jacob Cruser