51 Rivers That Could
Be Wild and Scenic

Renee Patrick

Author: Renee Patrick | Published: January 2, 2022 | Category: In the News

Dear Senator Wyden,

Thank you for your visionary leadership to preserve Oregon’s wild rivers, clean water, and wildlife for the future. I sincerely appreciate this opportunity to help develop legislation to protect my favorite rivers.

For the past four years, I’ve been working to establish the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail, a project of the Oregon Natural Desert Association. Since your announcement of this Wild and Scenic nomination process, I realized that 51 different unprotected rivers, streams, and creeks are found along our immersive desert backpacking route.

In 2016, I hiked and packrafted the entire 750 miles of the Oregon Desert Trail. After six weeks of walking and paddling through the desert from Bend, through the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge; Steens Mountain Wilderness; the Pueblo, Trout Creek, and Oregon Canyon Mountains; to the most dramatic of all of our high desert treasures: the Owyhee Canyonlands, I came to understand firsthand how important these natural water sources are to the health of the desert landscape. These waterways support important intact habitats and sensitive species and are also crucial to that thirsty long-distance backpacker after a 20-mile day of hiking in the sagebrush sea.

Clean water sources are not only important to the safety of hikers, but they support other primitive recreation opportunities across eastern Oregon. Sections of the Oregon Desert Trail can be packrafted, kayaked, or rafted, and paddling these desert rivers presents an incredible opportunity to view the landscape from a different perspective. Much of the Owyhee River is already protected as Wild and Scenic, but the stretch below the dam which continues through dramatic rock formations and past enticing side canyons is also an excellent section to explore from an inflatable packraft. I’ve also paddled the lovely Chewaucan River in the spring snowmelt, enjoying the stately Ponderosa pines and early-blooming balsamroot lining its banks. I believe that rivers are trails too, and I am always on the lookout for other remote paddling experiences along the Oregon Desert Trail.

I would like to advocate for the inclusion of the 51 different unprotected waterways along the Oregon Desert Trail in your upcoming legislation. I nominate these rivers for Wild and Scenic River designation:

1. Chewaucan River
2.  Honey Creek
3.  Little Honey Creek & Tributary
4.  Poison Creek
5.  Deep Creek
6.  Guano Creek
7.  Guano Slough
8.  West Road Gulch
9.  East Road Gulch
10. Rock Creek
11. Dry Creek
12. South Ankle Creek
13. Little Fish Creek
14. Mud Creek
15. Bridge Creek & Big Bridge Creek
16. Riddle Creek
17. Coyote Creek
18. Mann Creek
19. Castle Rock Creek
20. Little McCoy Creek
21. Cottonwood Creek
22. Big Alvord Creek
23. Little Alvord Creek
24. Pike Creek
25. Indian Creek
26. Willow Creek
27. Little Cottonwood Creek
28. Arizona Creek
29. Vanhorn Creek
30. Denio Creek
31. Kings River
32. Big Trout Creek
33. Sage Creek
34. McDermitt & NF McDermitt Creek
35. Willow Creek
36. Little Whitehorse Creek
37. Antelope Creek
38. Fifteen Mile Creek
39. Doolittle Creek
40. Whitehorse Creek
41. Cottonwood Creek
42. Oregon Canyon Creek – East Fork
43. Oregon Canyon Creek & Tributary
44. Indian Creek
45. Rattlesnake Creek
46. Antelope Creek
47. Middle Fork Owyhee River
48. South Fork Carter Creek Tributary
49. Succor Creek
50. Dry Creek
51. Owyhee River

Thank you again for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advocate for desert river protections. On behalf of myself and the hundreds of other hikers and paddlers who explore eastern Oregon each year along the Oregon Desert Trail, I hope you consider these suggestions in your upcoming legislation.


Renee Patrick
Oregon Desert Trail Coordinator
Oregon Natural Desert Association



Nominate your favorite waterway for Wild and Scenic River designation today!