How to nominate a river
for Wild and Scenic protection

Greg Burke

Oregon can already claim to be the state with the most Wild and Scenic Rivers, and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden has a not-so-secret goal to make Oregon the state with the Most Designated Miles, too. (Right now, that honor goes to Alaska.)

Earlier this fall, Sen. Wyden announced a new effort to protect more rivers in the state as Wild and Scenic Rivers which calls on Oregonians to nominate rivers for protection. If you’ve read about this effort in the news, you might have noticed that all you have to do to nominate a river is send an email to Senator Wyden.

So, what should your email say? Here a five suggestions on how to tackle this assignment.

Start by saying thanks

It’s always nice to thank our leaders for doing the right thing.

  • Example: Thank you for your visionary leadership on protecting Oregon’s wild rivers, clean water, and wildlife!
Talk about why the river or stream is valuable

To qualify for Wild and Scenic River designation, a stretch of river or creek must be undammed and possess at least one “Outstandingly Remarkable Value” such as scenic beauty, critical habitat for native fish or a source of clean drinking water.

  • Example: “I am nominating Whychus Creek for Wild and Scenic River protection because it provides important habitat for native fish.”

If you list something that makes the river special to you, chances are good that will be an Outstandingly Remarkable Value.

Make it personal

Talking about why this waterway is important to you is the most important part of your nomination. If you haven’t visited it, you can still talk about why the outstandingly remarkable values it possesses are important to you personally.

  • Example: “My grandfather fished Whychus Creek when he was young. I want to make sure that this creek is still healthy and wild so that I can teach my daughter to fish there someday.”
Get as specific with the location as you can

This will help Sen. Wyden know which segment of the river you are nominating. If you don’t know the specific upper and lower terminus, name some landmarks along the stretch you are nominating. If you need ideas for waterways to nominate, check out this map.

  • Example: “I would like to nominate Whychus Creek from the Crooked River National Grassland boundary to its confluence with the Deschutes River.”
Feel free to be creative

Sen. Wyden’s office is likely to get thousands of nominations. There’s no reason you can’t brighten the staff’s day by making your nomination stand out from the crowd.

  • Idea: Attach a photo you’ve taken of the river you’re nominating.
  • Idea: Write your nomination as a poem or essay.
  • Idea: Take a video of yourself talking about your favorite river and send that in.
  • Idea: Do you play an instrument? Set your nomination to music.
  • Idea: Get together with a group and send in a group nomination.
  • Idea: Add some emojis 🏞🌊🚣‍♀️🙏!

 Ready to get started? Write your nomination email to Senator Wyden now!


Mary McCord, ONDA Volunteer

Mary McCord, ONDA Volunteer

“I find enjoyment in the peaceful wide open spaces, geology, and rich history of Oregon’s high desert,” says Mary. Reflecting on volunteering, she continues, “If you have the ability and desire, it’s important to do something to contribute. It doesn’t have to be big, because every little bit helps.”


Greater Sage Grouse and Sparrows at Hart Mountain

Greater Sage Grouse and Sparrows at Hart Mountain


Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva, ODT thru-hiker 2017

Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva, ODT thru-hiker 2017

“To me, it’s a thru-hike in an isolated place that promotes a conversation in land management, ethics and usage. Hiking across a vast and remote landscape and having a random and chance encounter with cowboys and hunters to discuss how ‘all of us’ should treat the land, how we all have a responsibility, no matter our political leanings, really showed me the pulse of the people in rural areas, especially here out west.”