The United States is home to many beautiful rivers that provide essential habitats for wildlife and sustenance for farming and human consumption. Keeping our river systems clean and healthy benefits us all. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act helps protect and preserve some of our nation’s most valuable rivers and waterways. Here in Southern Oregon, one such important waterway is the Rogue River.
About Southern Oregon’s Rogue River
The Rogue River is over 200 miles long, running from a natural spring near Crater Lake to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach. Its waters are home to many aquatic species, including coho and chinook salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon, and Pacific lamprey. These fish are important food sources for bears, bald eagles, and other wildlife. Of course, the river is also home to economic and recreational activities, from fishing to boating and camping.
How is the health of our waterways at risk?
All of these elements are threatened when the cleanliness of the water is disrupted. Rivers throughout America are subjected to deadly pollution from illegal dumping, accidental discharges, and harmful runoff into the waterways. In fact, runoff from logging and farming activities along the river often causes the water temperatures to rise, which is detrimental to the fish. For the Rogue River, many of the species of fish we take for granted are now identified as “species of concern” by NOAA fisheries or other agencies.
How does the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provide protection?
In 1968, Congress passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA), declaring it the “policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historical, cultural, or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.” The Rogue River was one of the initial eight rivers receiving the designation.
Some of the original concerns for the sustainability of the Rogue River was the growing gold mining industry of the 1850s. While gold mining itself was responsible for runoff into the river, it also contributed to population growth in the Rogue Valley, which required proper management to prevent destruction to its system of waterways.
The WSRA protects more than 13,400 miles of rivers and streams in the United States, yet these 226 rivers represent less than one-half of one percent of our nation’s rivers. The Act is managed by a combination of state and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Forestry Service, and others. Under the Act, the managing agencies study the river and adopt comprehensive plans to preserve the natural quality and sustainability of the waterway. These plans address resource protection, development of lands and facilities, user capacities, and other management practices necessary or desirable to achieve the WSRA’s purposes.
Are you interested in learning more about sustainability initiatives in Southern Oregon?
The Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition’s mission is to enhance the livability of the Rogue Valley. We promote and educate on alternate fuels, seek to decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!