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wild and scenic river Designation

"Whether you are a whitewater rafter, an angler or simply an Oregonian who believes strongly in protecting the river or stream that provides safe drinking water to your community, I want to hear from you. Now is your chance, once again, to speak up for your favorite rivers and highlight the outstanding values that make each river worthy of protection."

--Senator Ron Wyden

On October 2nd, 2019, the 51st Anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, Senator Ron Wyden announced the upcoming expansion of Oregon's Wild & Scenic River designations.


About Wild & Scenic Rivers


Wild & Scenic River protection designation identifies and protects free-flowing waterways viewed as having “Outstanding Remarkable Value (ORV)."  Values focus on cultural resources, clean water, fisheries, scenery, or recreation. 

“Outstanding Remarkable” means a unique, rare, or exemplary feature that is significant – at local to national scales (for comparison) and are professional judgments.


“Value” relates to social, cultural, and ecological values and include scenic, cultural, historic, recreational, geological, fish related, wildlife related, botanical, hydrological, paleontological, scientific or other associated values. Each value needs to be directly related to the river.

To learn more check out Section 1(b) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act here.


The January deadline for Wild & Scenic River nominations saw a flood of East Oregonian nominations. Over 100 streams that highlight the regional waterway's ecological, cultural and recreational "Outstanding Remarkable Values"were nominated in eastern Oregon. Statewide, Senator Wyden’s office received over 15,000 nominations for more than 4,000 miles of streams and rivers submitted. 

Senator Wyden's office has been collating and assessing nominations for potential Wild & Scenic River designation.

Nominations from GHCC supporters

"I would especially like for you to consider adding the three major forks of Catherine Creek;  North, Middle, and South, located adjacent to the west side of Eagle Cap Wilderness, Union County, Oregon. I have backpacked, hiked, skied, and fly fished in the Catherine Creek country above the forks and believe these three rivers are exceptional in beauty and natural habitat. Portions of the north fork and middle fork are within Eagle Cap Wilderness while the south fork drains the western edge of the wilderness area. These river tributaries are exceptionally clean, free running, and are important threatened Bull Trout habitat. The land these three rivers drain is wild and important habitat for a number of species like bear, deer, elk, and I suspect more rare critters like Pine Martin, fox, and wolf. Please give them your highest consideration."

"[We] appreciate the opportunity to recommend Eagle Creek in Baker County for Wild and Scenic designation... Eagle Creek drains the southern side of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. There is a roadless, five mile canyon section that begins approximately 11 miles from the mouth that is accessible only by trail. This area has high water quality and intact habitat on both sides of the river. It is scenic and home to mule deer, elk, turkeys, bears and other wildlife."

Wild & Scenic River protections


Once identified as a Wild & Scenic River, management and activities are required to “protect and enhance the values which caused it to be included as a Wild & Scenic River.” Current activities continue to be allowed to occur as long as the waterway’s Wild & Scenic value is protected. Wild & Scenic River designation engages local communities in long-term management to protect the character and the free and natural flow of the river.  Protections include securing clean water, limiting management activities that could harm the river’s character and outstanding values, and a designated buffer along the river’s adjacent land. 


Tips on “outstanding remarkable values” to guide your nomination description


Cultural values are associated with areas important to Native American communities where cultural use occurred, occupation of a region was identified, or other areas important to Native American communities.  


Recreational values – rivers or waterways that attract visitors to the geographic region – for instance, rafting, fishing, camping, or hiking activities that are directly related to the presence of that stream or waterway. 


Fish and Wildlife values are judged on the importance of the river to fish and wildlife populations or habitat. This is especially important if the fish species are listed as endangered, threatened, or sensitive. ​


Geological values – rivers with associated important, unique or rare geologic features, such as the large jagged rocks looming over the whitewater of the Imnaha and Snake River confluence at Eureka Bar.


Scenic values – Notable landscape elements, be it landforms, color, water, plants associated with a waterway that create unique, rare and visually appealing landscapes associated with a waterway – especially important as development increases.


Historic value is a place on a river where a significant event occurred or where an important person conducted a specific activity. 


Botanical, hydrological, ecological, and paleontological values include rare plant communities, fossil exposure, and important hydrological or groundwater regions. 

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