Celebrating 50 Years of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act!

Grande Ronde River A rafter floats down the Grande Ronde River North Fork John Day River Wenaha River Grande Ronde River North Fork John Day River Wenaha River Rafting on the Grande Ronde River Grande Ronde River North Fork John Day River Wenaha River Grande Ronde River North Fork John Day River Wenaha River Grande Ronde River North Fork John Day River Wenaha River Grande Ronde River North Fork John Day River Wenaha River

 

 

Logo for 50th Anniversary of Wild and Scenic RiversIn 2018, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act turns 50! The Umatilla National Forest is home to three designated wild and scenic rivers for your floating, fishing or hiking activities. Read below for some fun facts and information about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and your rivers on the Umatilla National Forest!

 


 

Upcoming Events

  • Wild and Scenic Film FestivalApril 13, 2018, 7 - 9 p.m. at the Maxey Auditorium in Walla Walla, WA
    • Wild & Scenic celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Hosted by Blue Mountain Land Trust, the festival will present films that showcase the importance and vibrancy of naturally flowing waterways, speaks to environmental concerns and celebrates the natural beauty of our planet.

 


Grande Ronde, Wenaha and North Fork John Day RiversUmatilla National Forest Wild and Scenic Rivers

 

Grande Ronde River

The Grande Ronde River is located in northeast Oregon and flows through lands that are privately owned and others administered by the Wenaha State Wildlife Area, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The entire river corridor is a complex ecosystem rich in unique natural features, history, spectacular scenery and a variety of plant and animal life. The 'upper river' consists of steep basalt canyons and ascending ridges within dense evergreen forest, portions of which are only accessible by boat. The meandering curves of the 'middle river' parallel a seldom-traveled county road as the canyon begins to widen and forests yield to open ridges and steep range lands. The 'lower river' section in Washington is characterized by sparsely-vegetated, rugged terrain and contains the history of ancient peoples and pioneer homesteads amongst a few active ranches.

  • The Grande Ronde River was designated on October 28, 1988 from the confluence with the Wallowa River near Rondowa, and ends near the Oregon-Washington border.
  • The classification for the Grande Ronde River includes 26.4 miles designated as wild and 17.4 miles designated as recreational. Combined this classification covers a total of 43.8 miles. 
  • The entire segment of the Grande Ronde River that flows through the Umatilla National Forest is designated as wild.
  • The Grande Ronde River is a nationally renowned sport fishery, one of the top three in the region. The mainstem and its major tributaries provide spawning and rearing habitat for wild and hatchery stock of spring Chinook, fall Chinook, summer steelhead and rainbow trout. Fishing is excellent even late in the season after the water levels have receded.
  • There are many recreational opportunities on the Grande Ronde River, including anadromous and resident fishing, floating (rafting, canoeing and kayaking for overnight use), and big game viewing and hunting.
  • Visitors are able to enjoy an unusually long float season for a free-flowing river, from ice breakup in the spring to freeze up in the fall. Trips offer a rare multiple day float for those with beginner and intermediate skills. Check out additional information on river rafting opportunities on the Grande Ronde River. 
  • The river corridor also provides critical wintering habitat for bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and whitetail deer. Others contributing to the impressive viewing opportunities include black bears, cougars and mountain goats. The river corridor also serves as a sensitive wintering area for bald eagles.
 

North Fork John Day River

From its headwaters to Camas Creek, the North Fork of the John Day River is one of the most important rivers in northeast Oregon for the production of anadromous fish. Its diverse landscape and geologic formations create high quality natural scenery. Man-made developments have a primitive or historic appearance, including early day mining remains. There is a great deal of history from the gold mining era tied to this area, which began in the 1860's.

  • The North Fork John Day River was designated on October 28, 1988 from its headwaters in the North Fork of the John Day Wilderness Area to its confluence with Camas Creek.
  • The classification for the North Fork John Day River includes 27.8 miles designated as wild, 10.5 miles designated as scenic, and 15.8 miles designated as recreational. Combined this classification covers a total of 54.1 miles.
  • Recreation opportunities include hunting, fishing, sightseeing, horseback riding, hiking, snowmobiling, skiing, camping, and whitewater rafting.
  • The river is popular for whitewater rafting and river floating. Peak flow for the river is usually in late April to early June.
  • Wildlife found along the river's corridor include mule deer, elk, and black bears, along with peregrine falcons and bald eagles.
  • In the spring, wildflowers are abundant along the river corridor.
 

Wenaha River

The Wenaha River is located in northeast Oregon on the Umatilla National Forest, starting within the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. The Wenaha drainage is located on the eastern slope of the northern Blue Mountains of Oregon. The Wenaha flows between rugged basalt outcrops rising 1,600 feet to the plateau above.

  • The Wenaha River was designated on October 28, 1988 from the confluence of the North and South Forks to its confluence with the Grande Ronde River.
  • The classification for the Wenaha River includes 18.7 miles designated as wild, 2.8 miles designated as scenic, and 0.2 miles designated as recreational. Combined this classification covers a total of 21.6 miles.
  • The river is noted for its remoteness and largely primitive setting.
  • Exceptional opportunities exist for big game hunting, fishing camping and hiking.
  • Wild runs of Chinook, steelhead and bull trout are found here; it is one of the best rainbow trout streams in northeastern Oregon. 

 

Wild and Scenic Rivers Act 

 

History of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 (Public Law 90-542; 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection. The 1988 Oregon Omnibus Rivers Act (P.L. 100-557) amended the 1968 National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and designated all of the wild and scenic rivers on the Forest.

 

River Classifications

According to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Acts, rivers are classified as wild, scenic, or recreational.

  • Wild river — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.
  • Scenic river — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
  • Recreational river — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.
 

River Values

Wild and scenic rivers have two main values which were used to designate them under the act. The first value is 'free-flowing'. Free-flowing is defined as existing or flowing in a natural condition without impoundments (e.g. dams, streamside riprap, diversions, etc). The second value is a river's outstandingly remarkable values (ORV). ORVs are a river's unique set of characteristics like physical, cultural, botanical, scenic, historical and recreational.

 

For More Information about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Program

More information about the national wild and scenic rivers program can be found at the national wild and scenic river website.





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