Oregon is home to over 110,000 miles of rivers and streams. Across the state, only 2,173 miles of rivers and streams are currently designated as Wild and Scenic, but, thanks to Senator Wyden and Merkley’s River Democracy Act of 2021, an additional 4,700 miles of streams and rivers may soon be protected.
Rivers and streams do so much for us. Our waterways provide important habitat for wildlife, from bald eagles to beavers. Rivers and streams also provide us with fresh drinking water, and places to swim, paddle, and fish. And rivers are gathering places—places for us to connect with the natural world, to sit on rocks by the water and gaze out as the osprey dives down to catch a fish; places where we can connect with each other, and spend long summer days in the sun.
Land use goal 6 focuses on protecting natural resources—and few natural resources are as important as water. The River Democracy Act will help uphold Statewide Land Use Planning Goal 6: Air, Water, and Land Resources Quality by protecting waterways across Oregon.
A coalition of local community groups — including 1000 Friends — recently sent a letter of support to Senators Wyden and Merkley, encouraging them to keep moving forward with the River Democracy Act. You can read the full text of the letter below:
The Honorable Ron Wyden
United States Senate
304 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Jeff Merkley
United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Re: Community organization support for the River Democracy Act of 2021
Dear Senators Wyden and Merkley,
We the undersigned organizations applaud the introduction of the River Democracy Act of 2021 and thank you for your leadership to protect the Oregon rivers and waterways that provide our great state with clean drinking water, amazing recreation opportunities, and critical habitat for fish and wildlife.
Although our groups represent a wide variety of interests, purposes, and people across the state, we all have at least one thing in common—a love of Oregon’s rivers. From paddling clubs to birding groups, and youth-led climate organizations to watershed councils, we all recognize that rivers bring Oregonians together. They provide us with clean drinking water, our favorite swimming holes, and places to take our families fishing and boating.
For years—and for some of us, decades—we’ve picked up litter and planned full-blown river cleanups. But there’s no better way to show our love for Oregon’s rivers than by supporting their lifelong protection. Even at times when it feels like there’s not much to agree on, a desire to provide the next generation with places to hike, paddle, and explore is a universal truth.
Oregon is a place we love to live. Adding nearly 4,700 miles of Oregon rivers and streams throughout the state to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system will protect our waterways and fuel our local economies.
We appreciate the statewide community collaboration and input that went into crafting this bill to ensure that it represents the needs of all Oregonians. Recent years have shed a resoundingly clear light on something Oregonians have long known: just how important outdoor spaces are for our health and happiness. Thank you for introducing the River Democracy Act of 2021, and know that we the undersigned organizations are thankful for your tireless work on this issue, and stand ready to work alongside you to ensure swift passage of a clean bill.
Sincerely, the undersigned,
1000 Friends of Oregon
Applegate Siskiyou Alliance
Audubon Society of Corvallis
Audubon Society of Lincoln City
Audubon Society of Portland
Blue Mountain Audubon Society
Central Oregon Bitterbrush Broadband - Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Central Oregon LandWatch
Deschutes Redbands Chapter - Trout Unlimited
East Cascades Audubon Society
Eastern Oregon Legacy Lands
Endangered Species Coalition
Extinction Rebellion Portland, OR (XRPDX)
Friends of Douglas-fir National Monument
Friends of the Kalmiopsis
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Friends of the Metolius
Friends of the Owyhee
Greater Hells Canyon Council
Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Cascade Volcano Chapter
Great Old Broads for Wilderness Rogue Valley
Juniper Group Sierra Club
Kalmiopsis Audubon Society
Kalmiopsis Guides Association
Klamath Basin Audubon Society
Klamath Forest Alliance
Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center
Lane County Audubon Society
Lower Columbia Canoe Club
Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council
Molalla River Watch Watershed Council
Mt. Hood Stewardship Council
National Wildlife Federation
Native Fish Society
Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment
Northeast Oregon Ecosystems
Oregon Council Trout Unlimited
Oregon Kayak and Canoe Club