Oregon is a state blessed with vast networks of rivers and streams flowing through remarkable landscapes and ecosystems. Oregonians cherish these wild places and many of us have built our lives around the state’s beautiful watersheds. Senator Ron Wyden has spent his career protecting Oregon’s clean, free-flowing rivers. In October 2019, as he set out to substantially increase the number and miles of the state’s watersheds protected as Wild and Scenic Rivers, Senator Wyden reached out to Oregonians for their suggestions of rivers to protect. The citizens of the state responded enthusiastically and his office soon received over 15,000 nominations for watersheds throughout the state.
After evaluating the recommendations of their fellow Oregonians, Wyden and his staff settled on 800 separate sections, comprising a total of nearly 4700 miles, of Oregon rivers to include in the River Democracy Act. These new designations build upon the 2200 miles of Oregon watersheds already permanently protected as Wild and Scenic, going back to the Rogue River’s inclusion in the original list of eight rivers selected for the first National Wild and Scenic River Act in 1968. Senator Wyden was instrumental in establishing additional Wild and Scenic designations for Oregon Rivers in 1988 and the River Democracy Act expands on this legacy.
These new Wild and Scenic Rivers will permanently protect our clean water and native species, improve fire resiliency, honor Tribal co-management, guarantee ongoing recreational and economic opportunity, and firmly establish Oregon as the country’s undisputed leader in permanent river protection.
As Senator Wyden explains in our new film, the River Democracy Act is about protecting Oregon’s treasures and, on our watch, truly doing something meaningful for the future of all our kids and grandkids.