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Scenic Waterway Assessments

Scenic Waterway Assessments

The goal of the Scenic Waterways Program is to celebrate the natural, scenic, and recreational values of certain unique Oregon waterways in the context of current and future land and resource uses. The state program, which is administered by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), currently includes approximately 1,200 miles on 21 rivers and one mountain lake.
 
Under direction from the Oregon Legislature (ORS 390.855), OPRD is required to periodically study new waterways for potential inclusion in the program. There had been no additions of State Scenic Waterways since 1988, however, in a September 2013 letter, the Governor instructed the Department to analyze waterway segments for potential inclusion in the program. 
 
The evaluation includes an assessment of select waterways to determine eligibility for inclusion in the program. Issues and concerns regarding the potential designation are also evaluated to assess the feasibility of designating the waterway. 
 
To assess the eligibility of waterways for inclusion in the program, the following general criteria are established in state statute:
• 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 study process includes consulting with and involving key stakeholders and the local community, gathering existing river data, conducting a field evaluation of the segment of river being studied, and drafting a report for public comment. OPRD works closely with state and federal agency staff, tribes, local governments, landowners, natural resource groups, and other stakeholders to evaluate the river for potential inclusion in the State Scenic Waterway system.

The study process doesn't automatically result in Scenic Waterway designation. The process requires careful analysis and evaluation of the river, discussions with stakeholders and local communities, and a public comment period. For candidate rivers to be designated as State Scenic Waterways, the Governor must formally designate them after a recommendation from Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission and concurrence from Oregon Water Resources Commission.



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2014 Waterway Assessments

 

In 2014, OPRD evaluated 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.
     
    Molalla River  
     Molalla River
  • Chetco River
     
    The Chetco River has its headwaters in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, eventually flowing into the Pacific Ocean near the city of Brookings, Oregon.  OPRD is studying three segments of the river beginning at the Steel Bridge within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and ending at Loeb State Park. For a map of the study area, click here.
     
    The free-flowing river provides drinking water for the residents of Brookings-Harbor, is home to native fish runs and a variety of other wildlife, and attracts a wide range of recreational users.
    Chetco River  
     Chetco River
  • Grande Ronde River
     
    The Grande Ronde River has its headwaters near the Anthony Lakes recreation area in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Blue Mountains in Union County, eventually flowing into the Snake River once it enters Washington. OPRD is studying three upper segments of the river beginning at the confluence of the Sheep Creek (near the junction with highway 51) in Tony Vey Meadows and ending at Hilgard Junction State Park, near the city of La Grande, Oregon. For a map of the study area, click here.
     
    The river segment under study provides wildlife habitat, fishing, and other recreational activities.
    Grande Ronde River  
Upper Grande Ronde River
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2014 Waterway Assessment Schedule

To evaluate the suitability of new waterways for the Scenic Waterways Program, the following general schedule was utilized during the 2014 assessment process:

  • May-July 2014: Waterway eligibility assessments for studied river areas;

  • August-September 2014: Stakeholder interviews for studied waterways;

  • Mid-Late September 2014: Community meetings to review eligibility and feasibility findings and to obtain public input (see specific dates and locations, below);

  • Early October 2014: Three online surveys to obtain public input for the studied waterways will be available until October 15th (the survey links are available below);

  • Late October-Early November 2014: Presentation of findings at County Commissioner meetings;

  • November 2014: Presentation of draft eligibility and suitability report to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission; and

  • December 2015: Submittal of the three Scenic Waterway reports and Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission recommendations to the Governor's Office for review.
 For a graphic representation of the waterway assessment schedule, click here.
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2014 Community Meetings and Materials

Community meetings were scheduled to review how the rivers fit the scenic waterway criteria, share identified issues and concerns, answer questions, and ask attendees to share their views on the river.

Chetco River. September 11, 7-9 p.m. at the Brookings Public Library at 405 Alder Street in Brookings, OR. To access the meeting's PowerPoint presentations, click here (2 MB).

Molalla River. September 15, 7-9 p.m. at the Molalla Public Library at 201 E 5th Street in Molalla, OR. To access the meeting's PowerPoint presentations, click here (2 MB).
 
Grande Ronde River. September 24, 7-9 p.m. at the La Grande Public Library at 2006 4th Street in La Grande, OR. To Access the meeting's PowerPoint presentations, click here (3.5 MB).


 

To access photos taken during field visits to each of the study rivers, visit the following link.
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2014-15 Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission Review & Recommendations

On November 19th, 2014, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department  (OPRD) staff presented the three Scenic Waterway reports to the Commission. To access the PowerPoint presentation, click here. (3.95 MB)

  • To access the Chetco River Scenic Waterway Report, click here. (5.16 MB)

  • To access the Molalla River Scenic Waterway Report, click here. (5.4 MB)

  • To access the Grande Ronde River Scenic Waterway Report, click here. (11.2 MB)

Based on the evaluation of eligibility and public input finding, the Commission unanimously  made the decision to provide the following recommendation to the Governor:

  • Based on the evaluation of eligibility criteria and public input, drop the Grande Ronde River study area from Scenic Waterway Program consideration.

  • Based on the evaluation of eligibility criteria  and public input, recommend adding the Chetco and Molalla River study areas into the Scenic Waterways Program.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) staff worked with local advisory commitees to pilot test the development of draft management plans for the Chetco and Molalla rivers and appended the draft plans to the existing scenic waterway qualification reports for Commission review on November 18, 2015. OPRD staff provided the reports, draft plans and Parks and Recreation Commission recommendations to the Water Resources Department on November 19, 2015. 

OPRD staff will submit the reports, draft plans, and recommendations of the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission, and concurrence of the Water Resources Commission to the Office of the Governor no later than December 31, 2015.

 

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2015 Draft Management Plan Advisory Committee & Public Meeting Materials

CHETCO RIVER

 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 6-7:30 P.M.

    Advisory Committee Kick Off Meeting*

      April Meeting Agenda

      April Meeting Notes

      April Meeting Handouts

Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 6-7:30 P.M.

    Advisory Committee Draft Review Meeting*

    June Meeting Agenda

    June Meeting Summary

     June Meeting Materials:
           WRD Presentation
           OPRD Presentation

Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 6-7:30 P.M.

    Open House Public Meeting

       Draft Pilot State Scenic Waterway Management Plan: Chetco River

       Draft Flow Document: Chetco River (Appendix A)

      Meeting Handout


LOCATION OF CHETCO MEETINGS:

Harbor Water District

98069 W. Benham Lane

Harbor, OR


Monday, Aug 17, 2015, 6-7:30 P.M.

   Advisory Committee Public Comment Review Tele-conference*

 

   Draft Agenda


To obtain the conference call information
, please contact Sara Griffith via e-mail: sara.griffith@oregon.gov, call (503) 986-0980 or attend in person at 725 Summer St. NE, Room 124, Salem, Oregon.

 

MOLALLA RIVER

 

Monday, April 20, 2015, 6-7:30 P.M.

    Advisory Committee Kick Off Meeting*

     April Meeting Agenda

     April Meeting Notes

     April Meeting Handouts

Monday, June 15, 2015​, 6-7:30 P.M.

    Advisory Committee Draft Review Meeting*

    June Meeting Agenda

     June Meeting Materials: 

OPRD Presentation

WRD Presentation


Monday, July 20, 2015, 6-7:30 P.M.

    Open House Public Meeting

    Draft Pilot State Scenic Waterway Management Plan: Molalla River

    Draft Flow Document: Molalla River (Appendix A)

    Meeting handout

LOCATION OF MOLALLA MEETINGS:

Molalla Public Library

201 E. 5th Street

Molalla, OR


Monday, Aug 24, 2015, 6-7:30 P.M.

   Advisory Committee Public Comment Review Tele-conference*

 

   Draft Agenda


To obtain the conference call information
, please contact Sara Griffith via e-mail: sara.griffith@oregon.gov, call (503) 986-0980 or attend in person at 725 Summer St. NE, Room 124, Salem, Oregon.


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2015 Draft Management Plans

Chetco River Study Area

Full report: State Scenic Waterway Report and Draft Managment Plan: Chetco River [PDF-10.15 MB]

APPENDIX D (2015): Draft Pilot State Scenic Waterway Management Plan: Chetco River [PDF]

Pilot Advisory Group Scenic Waterway Flow Recommendation: Chetco River [PDF-10.5 MB]

Note: The Water Resources Department (WRD) staff reports, agendas, and presentations to their Commission associated with the flow recommendation can be accessed on the WRD website.

To view photos of the study area, visit this Flickr photo album.

Molalla River Study Area

Full report: State Scenic Waterway Report and Draft Managment Plan: Molalla River [PDF-8.65 MB]

APPENDIX D (2015): Pilot State Scenic Waterway Management Plan: Molalla River [PDF]

Pilot Advisory Group Scenic Waterway Flow Recommendation: Molalla River [PDF]

Note: The Water Resources Department (WRD) staff reports, agendas, and presentations to their Commission associated with the flow recommendation can be accessed on the WRD website.

To view photos of the study area, visit this
Flickr photo album.

PUBLIC COMMENTS: A summary of and all submitted public comments received during both the 2014 comment period for the eligibility studies and the 2015 public comment period for the draft management plan and scenic flow recommendations are included in the full report document for each river.

Additional public input was received by Curry and Clackamas County in advance of Board meetings to discuss potential designation of new scenic waterways in those counties. Links are included below to county websites containing that information. Letters of support from both counties are included in the full reports.

Clackamas County: To view meeting materials (agenda, audio recordings) search for the 3/31/2015 meeting on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners website. The full informational packet for that meeting is also available, which includes public comment.

Curry County: To view meeting materials (agendas, audio recordings) search for the 12/17/2014 meeting on the Curry County Board of Commissioners website. The full informational packet for that meeting (including substantial public comment from Brookings area residents) is available on the Curry County website.

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2015 Recommendations to the Governor


Governor Brown Announces Two New State Scenic Waterways - news release

Scenic Waterways Process [PDF]

Scenic Waterway Candidate Maps [PDF]



Transmittal Documents

Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission Resolution in Favor of Designation [PDF]

Oregon Water Resources Commission Letter of Concurrence [PDF]

Oregon Water Resources Memo re: Contingent Scenic Waterway Flows for Chetco and Molalla Scenic Waterway Segments [PDF]

Chetco River Study Area Candidate Report

State Scenic Waterway Report and Draft Managment Plan: Chetco River [PDF 10.12 MB]

Pilot Advisory Group Scenic Waterway Flow Recommendation: Chetco River [PDF-10.5 MB]

Molalla River Study Area Candidate Report

State Scenic Waterway Report and Draft Managment Plan: Molalla River [PDF-8.65 MB]

Pilot Advisory Group Scenic Waterway Flow Recommendation: Molalla River [PDF-6.22 MB]

Upper Grande Ronde River Study Area Candidate Report

State Scenic Waterway Report: Upper Grande Ronde River [PDF-10.95 MB]

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2019 Recommendations to the Governor

Nehalem River Scenic Waterway - History and Process:


Over the last two years, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department  has worked with federal and state agencies and stakeholders to study 17.5-mile section of the Nehalem River to determine its suitability as a potenital State Scenic Waterway. 


The Nehalem River study area starts at Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground and ends at the boundary of Cougar Valley State Park, near Cook Creek Road. A Scenic Waterway designation would ensure future stewardship of the unique scenic, natural and recreation values of this section of river.

OPRD worked closely with an advisory committee to develop a draft management plan to accompany the Nehalem River study – this combined report is the Nehalem River Proposed Scenic Waterway Study and Draft Management Plan (6 MB PDF).

On February 20th 2019, OPRD staff presented the study/draft management plan to Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Commission voted unanimously to approve the study/draft management plan and recommend designating the study area of the Nehalem River as a State Scenic Waterway.    

On February 22nd 2019, Oregon Water Resources Commission concurred with designating the Nehalem River as a State Scenic Waterway.   

In April 2019, OPRD forwarded this study/draft management plan to the Governor along with a recommendation to designate the Nehalem River study area as a State Scenic Waterway.

In June 2019 Governor Brown designated a 17.5 mile section of the Nehalem River as a state Scenic Waterway. The Nehalem River Scenic Waterway is located in Clatsop and Tillamook Counties, and includes all lands within a quarter mile of each riverbank, beginning at Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground downstream and ending at the confluence with Cook Creek near Cougar Valley State Park. Designation of the Nehalem Scenic Waterway recognizes the outstanding scenic, natural, and recreational values of this segment of river.
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