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Portland, OR—The five-member panel of the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously Thursday to designate the North Fork Smith River in southern Oregon as the first Outstanding Resource Water in the State of Oregon. The designation stems from a citizen petition to the commission in 2016.

The North Fork Smith River begins in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in southern Oregon and is a federally-designated Wild and Scenic River. It is a 28 mile tributary of the Smith River that flows south into California and the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park on its way to the Pacific Ocean.

The decision adds protections under Oregon's water quality standards to ensure that there is no degradation of water quality in these waters. The policies would prohibit new permitted point source discharges to the waters and would prohibit other activities that could degrade the current high water quality, exceptional ecological characteristics and values of the waters.

This is Oregon's first designation of an Outstanding Resource Water, and the first in the Pacific Northwest. The waters of the North Fork Smith River offer exceptional clarity and a vibrant blue color. The pristine conditions are valuable habitat for endangered populations of Coho salmon, several rare plant species and other fish and wildlife, making this designation an unparalleled opportunity for protection.

Jennifer Wigal, Water Quality Program Manager, 503-229-5323,
Aron Borok, Water Quality Standards Specialist, 503-229-5050,
Katherine Benenati, Public Affairs Specialist, Eugene, 541-686-7997


Environment & Energy