Hundreds of Oregon groups support the River Democracy Act

Bryan Andresen

Author: Joanna Zhang  |  Published: July 20, 2022  |  Category: In the news

On February 3, 2021, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced the River Democracy Act to add 4,700 miles of Oregon’s rivers, streams, creeks and even lakes to the National Wild and Scenic River System.

This grassroots legislation is the largest Wild and Scenic Rivers proposal in our nation’s history, and it came about thanks to thousands of Oregonians across the state — including a strong showing of hundreds of ONDA supporters — who submitted their favorite waters for consideration in the bill.

More than 1,000 miles of vital desert waterways, including segments of the Owyhee, Malheur and John Day rivers, Whychus Creek and Succor Creek, made it into this legislation thanks directly to desert advocates nominating them.

The proposed rivers and streams in Oregon’s outback provide many benefits, including:

  • clean drinking water for local communities
  • recreation and tourism amenities
  • prime habitat for salmon, steelhead, native trout and other wildlife.

By designating these waterways as Wild and Scenic, they will be kept dam-free, forever, and a mile-wide corridor will protect the valuable ecological, recreational and cultural resources along their banks.

Since its introduction, the River Democracy Act has received broad support from across the state:

The total number of businesses that have endorsed the River Democracy Act is over 300.

The River Democracy Act is truly a landmark bill for Oregon’s public lands and waters, safeguarding one of the state’s most treasured resources for generations to come.


What defines Oregon’s high desert?

What defines Oregon’s high desert?

Bounded by the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Blue Mountains to the north, Oregon’s high desert covers approximately 24,000 square miles. Annual rainfall in the high desert varies from 5 to 14 inches. The average elevation is 4,000 feet; at 9,733 feet, the summit of Steens Mountain is the highest point in Oregon’s high desert. The terrain of the high desert was mostly formed by a series of lava flows that occurred between 30 and 10 million years ago.

Sources: The Oregon Encyclopedia; Wikipedia  


Helen Harbin, ONDA Board Member

Helen Harbin, ONDA Board Member

“I connect with Oregon’s high desert through my feet, my eyes, my sense of smell, and all the things I hear. Getting out there is a whole body experience.” Supporting ONDA, Helen says, not only connects her with wild landscapes, but is also a good investment. “I felt like if I gave them $20, they might squeeze $23 out of it.”


Stewardship Fence Building Timelapse

Stewardship Fence Building Timelapse

Sean Bagshaw   Website

Desert Rivers

In Oregon’s high desert, water is life. Rivers, streams, creeks and lakes are critical to everything Oregonians value about desert public lands, from fish and wildlife to recreation and clean […]

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