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Segment of South Umpqua River under study for possible inclusion in State Scenic Waterways Program

*EDIT* Please see bit.ly/scenicwaterways for an update on this study.

May 29, 2019

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has initiated a study of a segment of the South Umpqua River for possible inclusion in the State Scenic Waterways program. The 27-mile segment is in the southwest part of the Umpqua National Forest, running between Camp Comfort campground and Tiller. The agency anticipates the study will take 18 months to complete.

Oregon law requires OPRD to periodically study rivers for potential inclusion in the waterways program. The process involves evaluating the river and collecting data, consulting with local communities and other stakeholders, and drafting a report for public comment.

OPRD follows these criteria when evaluating rivers segments for possible inclusion in the program:

  • The river must be relatively free-flowing.
  • The view from the waterway must be pleasant.
  • The river must have outstanding recreational value.
  • The waterway must be able to sustain substantial recreation.

River segments under study are not guaranteed inclusion in the program; if a segment is found to be eligible and suitable for designation, staff will develop a recommendation and plan that will go before the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Oregon Water Resources Commission, who could ultimately send a recommendation to the governor.

The goal of the State Scenic Waterways Program is to celebrate the natural, scenic and recreational values of designated waterways in the context of current and future land and resource uses. Scenic waterway designations do not affect existing water rights, but designation does require landowners to notify OPRD of certain activities along the waterway.

Oregonians voted to establish the program in 1970 via the Oregon Scenic Waterways Act. Approximately 1,200 miles on 21 rivers and one lake have been designated under the program.

The two most recent program additions, a 14-mile segment of the Chetco River and a 13-mile segment of the Molalla River, were designated by the governor in 2016. A study of a segment of the Nehalem River wrapped in February this year and the recommended designation was sent to Gov. Brown. The designation is still pending her decision.

More information about the waterways program is available online.