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The Boathouse Blog

Happy 50th Anniversary Wild & Scenic Rivers Act!

“While progress should never come to a halt, there are many places it should never come to at all.” — Paul Newman

National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act

2018 marks the 50th year of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. We have this act (and Congress) to thank for looking ahead and preserving public access and the environment for today and tomorrow. The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress (Public Law 90-542; 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Rivers are broken into 3 classifications: wild, scenic, or recreational.

Wild River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.

Scenic River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.

Recreational River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.

NE Oregon Rivers

In our neck of the woods, we have 3 rivers with sections that been designated one of these classifications:

Snake River in Hells Canyon: December 1, 1975: ‘Wild’ (32.5 miles from Hells Canyon Dam to Pittsburg Landing) ‘Scenic’ (34.4 miles to below Dug Bar) Total — 66.9 miles.
“The outstandingly remarkable values of the Wild and Scenic Snake River are scenery, recreation, geology, wildlife, fisheries, cultural resources, vegetation/botany and ecology.”

Grande Ronde River: October 28, 1988: ‘Wild’ (26.4 miles from the confluence with the Wallowa River) ‘Recreational’ (17.4 miles to Oregon-Washington border) Total — 43.8 miles.
“The Grande Ronde River is located in northeast Oregon and flows through lands that are privately owned and others administered by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. At 43.8 miles (70.5 km) in length, the federally protected section begins at the confluence with the Wallowa River near Rondowa, and ends near the Oregon-Washington border. The Grande Ronde River is a nationally renowned sport fishery, one of the top three in the region. The mainstem and its major tributaries provide spawning and rearing habitat for wild and hatchery stock of spring Chinook, fall Chinook, summer steelhead and rainbow trout. Fishing is excellent even late in the season after the water levels have receded.”

Wallowa River: July 23, 1996: ‘Recreational’ (10 miles from Minam to the confluence of the Grande Ronde & Wallowa (Rondowa)) “Approximately 10 miles in length, the river is classified as recreational. It offers incredible fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and floatboating, as well as a state park for camping.”

Join us on a rafting trip on any one of these rivers to experience why the National Wild & Scenic River Act took a shine to this part of Oregon.