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Background for 2014 Scenic Waterways Assessments

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 included an assessment of select waterways to determine its eligibility for inclusion in the program. Issues and concerns regarding the potential designation were also evaluated to assess the feasibility of designating the waterway. A report will be submitted to the Governor in January 2015 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 was 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 Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission will either recommend for or against designating each waterway studied, depending on the result of the evaluation and public process.
For general program information, such as a list of current State Scenic Waterways, visit: www.oregon.gov/OPRD/RULES/Pages/waterways.aspx.



Preliminary Waterway Screening Process


Prior to the selection of three waterways to be studied in 2014, OPRD completed a preliminary screening process of all Oregon waterways to determine which of these waterways have the potential to meet the Program's eligibility criteria. That list was evaluated by partner state agencies to determine which waterways would be studied during the 2013-2015 biennium.


Current Waterway Assessments


In 2014, OPRD is evaluating three waterways to determine their eligibility and suitability for inclusion into the Scenic Waterways Program. Below is a description of those waterways and areas included in the study:
  • Molalla River
    The Molalla River has its headwaters in the Table Rock Wilderness Area in Oregon's Cascade Range in rural Clackamas County, eventually flowing into the Willamette River near Canby. OPRD is studying one upper river segment, beginning at the confluence of the Table Rock  Fork and ending at Glen Avon Bridge, near the city of Molalla, Oregon. For a map of the study area, click here
    This free-flowing river provides drinking water for the cities of Molalla and Canby, is home to native fish runs and a variety of other wildlife, and attracts a wide range of recreational users.