Upper McKenzie River (photo by Andrew Kumler).

Wild and Scenic River Legislation Introduced

February 4, 2021

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182 email

Senators Wyden and Merkley Introduce Bold Wild and Scenic Rivers Legislation for Oregon Waterways

On February 3, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced the River Democracy Act, which will add 4,700 river miles in Oregon into the Wild and Scenic Rivers system. The proposal will permanently protect waterways across the state, from tributaries of the Snake River in northeast Oregon to unprotected creeks in the Siskiyou Mountains in southwest Oregon and dozens within the Oregon Coast Range and Cascade Mountains.

The effort is the largest of its kind in history and was made possible after over 2,500 Oregonians weighed in with nominations over the past two years.

“This is a bold and forward-thinking proposal that will benefit water quality, our recreation-based economy, and habitat for imperiled salmon,” says Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “Senators Wyden and Merkley are to be commended for their visionary leadership to safeguard our outstanding waterways.”

A copy of the legislation can be found here. A map of the proposed river additions can be found here.

Key Cascadia Wildlands business supporters weighed in on the news:

Nikos Ridge and Jamie Floyd, co-owners, Ninkasi Brewing Company: “A main ingredient to our award-winning craft beer is the clean, clear water that flows out of Oregon’s rivers. That is why we embrace Senator Wyden’s forward-thinking plan to forever safeguard key waterways across the state.”

Chris Daughters, owner, The Caddis Fly Angling Shop: “Oregon’s storybook rivers draw people from across the world for all of the recreation opportunities they offer. The protection of these rivers and their stream-side environments ensure certainty into the future for river-dependent businesses like The Caddis Fly Angling Shop, and that is why we commend Senator Wyden for introducing legislation to create safeguards for our outstanding, yet unprotected, rivers and streams across the state.”

Steve Mertz, owner, The Wheel Apizza Pub: “The top-notch, craft beer at The Wheel all starts with the outstanding water we use from the McKenzie River. Senator Wyden should be commended for his visionary leadership to further protect the waterways that make our state so special and our beer so tasty.”