Wild and Scenic Rivers of Oregon

Oregon now has 34 of the 81 wild and scenic rivers managed nationally by the BLM, or over 1,010 miles of roughly 2,700 total miles. These rivers and river segments are designated by Congress or the Secretary of the Interior for preservation of their free-flowing condition, and protection of remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, cultural, or other values, according to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.

National Conservation Lands Additions in 2019

On March 12, 2019, President Trump signed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9 also known as the Dingell Act), a comprehensive public land management bill with over 170 separate sections that affect almost every state in the nation. Among the spectacular new additions to the National Landscape Conservation System in Oregon/Washington include:

  • the designation of approximately 200 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Coos Bay, Medford, and Northwest Oregon Districts. These 48 wild, scenic, and recreational segments are spread across nine newly designated wild and scenic rivers and two pre-existing designations.
  • the designation of the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness in the Coos Bay District; and
  • an adjustment of the Deschutes Canyon-Steelhead Falls Wilderness Study Area boundary in the Prineville District in central Oregon.

These 48 river segments add to the 25 wild and scenic rivers, comprising over 800 miles, managed BLM in Oregon. These rivers are designated for preservation of their free-flowing condition, water quality, and outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, cultural, or other values and managed in accordance with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.

Before visiting these rivers, be sure to check with the local BLM office to learn about the river including river conditions, potential hazards (e.g. underwater terrain) and allowed water activities. Know your limits and pick an appropriate activity for your group's size and ability. Check that everyone has a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket and that each person's life jacket fits properly. Develop a Plan B in case things change and you can't do your planned activity. Complete and share your Trip Plan with someone who is not going on the trip. Develop a plan of action so you know what to do if there is an emergency (e.g. you go overboard, your boat flips, hazardous river conditions).

Always wear your life jacket! Stick to your intended route. Keep an eye on environmental changes (weather, wildlife, water conditions, etc.) and your group to assess if you should continue your trip or turn back.