Defending Our State Scenic Waterways

Protected State Scenic Waterway corridors aren’t just pretty places to look at. They’re protected, in part, because they provide important habitat for fish and other wildlife. Salmon, bull trout, steelhead and other fish species all benefit directly from healthy rivers, as do herons, bald and golden eagles, and other birds that may nest or forage in river corridors. Beaver and river otters likely win the award for cutest river corridor inhabitants, while other wildlife from deer to foxes and coyotes rely on access to rivers for fresh drinking water.

Unfortunately, many of Oregon’s rivers face threats from industrial logging, mining, and irrigation diversions. Furthermore, increasing human activity along roads and trails and other development can also drastically change the integrity of a river and severely harm the wildlife that rely on access to riverside habitats.

 

Our work to protect the Deschutes and other State Scenic Waterways around Oregon goes a long way toward protecting wildlife that might otherwise be cut off from their preferred natural habitat. We are currently working to defend existing protections for the Deschutes State Scenic Waterway and achieve new protections for additional rivers like the Nehalem and South Umpqua. The same way the Wilderness Act protects our forests and forest-dwelling critters from industrial logging, our State Scenic Waterways act can be a shield for defending clean water and the animals that rely on the healthy rivers.

On a national and state level we're seeing attacks on bedrock environmental safeguards designed to open up National Monuments to drilling, logging, and mining. Other laws like the endangered species act are also in the cross hairs. The proposal for a new bridge over the Deschutes river likewise would require weakening public land and river laws to explicitly allow more development. Just like repealing protections for monuments or endangered species, creating loopholes in the State Scenic Water program puts the habitat of all the animals pictured here at risk. This is a precedent we fear that, if not defended against, could be used to weaken river protections across the state. 

Photo Credits: 
Raptor and coyote photos by Shelley Finnigan, deer photos by Stosh Thompson