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Take Action: OR Rivers Considered for Scenic Waterway Protection

Posted: 09/29/2014
by Megan Hooker

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (ORPD) wants to hear from you about whether three Oregon rivers should be protected as State Scenic Waterways. Sections of the Molalla, Chetco and Grand Ronde, all of which are well known and loved by Pacific Northwest paddlers, are up for consideration. The agency will make their determination based on public feedback, and American Whitewater encourages you to weigh in by taking a survey or by sending an e-mail to the ORPD by October 15th, 2014. All of these rivers are important to the whitewater paddling community and we encourage you to weigh in and provide your personal perspective on the recreational and other values of these rivers.

The people of Oregon voted to establish the State Scenic Waterway program in 1970 in order to balance the impacts of dams. The program proclaims that the highest and best uses of the waters within State Scenic Waterways are recreation, fish and wildlife uses, and a designation protects the outstanding scenic, fish, wildlife, geological, botanical, historic, archaeologic, and outdoor recreation values of a river for current and future generations. Similar to federal Wild and Scenic protection, a State Scenic Waterway designation keeps a river freely-flowing by prohibiting dam construction. Those seeking to engage in certain activities, such as mining or logging, within a State Scenic Waterway corridor need to receive permission from the agency.

ORPD is considering the following segments for State Scenic Waterway status:

Molalla River: From the confluence with Table Rock Fork to the Glen Avon Bridge near the town of Molalla. This includes the 3 Bears Run. We are recommending that the Table Rock Fork and Copper Creek Fork also be added. Take the Molla survey.

Chetco River: From Steel Bridge in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to Loeb State Park. The segment considered for state designation includes the Chetco Gorge and is largely congruous with the federal Wild and Scenic designation. Take the Chetco survey.

Grande Ronde: From the confluence with Sheep Creek to Hilgard Junction State Park near La Grande. This segment upstream of La Grande is not as popular for whitewater (the standard multi-day whitewater trip is downstream of La Grande), but protecting the headwaters is very important for the health of the river. Take the Grande Ronde survey.

Today, State Scenic Waterway program protects less than 1% of the state's waterways. Public surveys and comments are a critical part of whether segments of the Molalla, Chetco and Grande Ronde will be added to the State Scenic Waterways system. Please do your part and take these quick surveys by October 15th to share your thoughts with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department!

Check out more information about the 2014 Assessments of the Molalla, Chetco and Grande Ronde, and general information about the ORPD's State Scenic Waterway program.