The Scenic Waterways Act was created to strike a balance between protecting the natural resources, scenic value, and recreational uses of Oregon’s rivers by designating them. The state program, which is administered by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), currently includes approximately 1,150 miles on 20 waterways.
There have been no additions of State Scenic Waterways since 1988. However, under direction from the Oregon Legislature (ORS 390.855), OPRD is required to periodically study new waterways for potential inclusion in the program. In a September 2013 letter, the Governor instructed the Department to analyze at least three waterway segments during each biennium, depending on the availability of operational resources.
The evaluation will include an assessment of select waterways to determine its eligibility for inclusion in the program. Issues and concerns regarding the potential designation will also be evaluated to assess the feasibility of designating the waterway. A suitability report will be submitted to the Governor to summarize the methodology used and to provide findings for each river segment studied.
To assess the eligibility of waterways for inclusion in the program, the following general criteria will be utilized:
• Free-flowing nature of the waterway;
• Scenic quality, as viewed from the river; and
• Natural and recreational resources, including the ability of the waterway and its setting to sustain recreational use.
The feasibility of including waterways in the program will be determined by evaluating public interest and support for the studied waterway. This evaluation will include public input stakeholder interviews, holding public meetings in the counties that could be affected by the designation, and surveying adjacent property owners and the general public regarding the potential designation. The final report will either recommend for or against designating each waterway studied, depending on the result of the evaluation and public process.