What Wild & Scenic
Looks Like

Greg Burke   Website

Did you know that, in addition to rivers, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act can also protect creeks, streams and lakes? 

Wild and Scenic desert waters take many forms and every drop of desert water plays an important role in the desert ecosystem. From mighty salmon-bearing rivers, like the North Fork John Day, to seasonal streams high in the Pueblo Mountains, the hundreds of waterways nominated for protection in Senator Wyden’s Wild and Scenic Rivers legislation highlight both the diversity and importance of each type of desert waterway.


South Fork Crooked River and Birds

South Fork Crooked River and Birds


Cregg Large, member since 2009

Cregg Large, member since 2009

“I came to Oregon 12 years ago from Texas. Texas, for all its size, has very little public land. Coming to Oregon has made me realize the special gift we as Americans have in our public lands. Volunteering with an organization like ONDA is my way of reciprocating for this gift. Through restoration efforts, I feel we are helping leave a better place than we found it. Through advocating for protection for public lands, we safeguard migration routes for animals and keep the land where it belongs: with the public.”


Young Desert Horned Lizard

Young Desert Horned Lizard

In the summer these lizards begin foraging for food as soon as their body temperature rises as the heat of the day increases. They feed on slow-moving, ground-dwelling insects. In the fall they hibernate by burying themselves in the sand.

Latin name: Phrysonoma platyrhinos

Mountain Streams

High up on desert peaks like Steens Mountain, streams like Cottonwood Creek arise as a trickle that can transform with spring snowmelt into a raging torrent. As ONDA member Julie Weikel fantastically described, “for brief weeks or even just days each spring, the jubilant celebrating streams move boulders, rip out tree roots, and raise a little canyon hell.” These small but mighty creeks sustain populations of rare Lahontan cutthroat trout and wildflower-filled meadows that provide critical habitat for sage-grouse and other desert species.

Mark Darnell   Website

[bctt tweet=”Were you also thrilled to see @RonWyden and @SenJeffMerkley introduce the River Democracy Act? Say thank you here: https://onda.org/take-action/desert-rivers-2021/” username=”theoregondesert”]

Canyon-carving Creeks

Boasting stunning scenery and exposing millenia of stunning geology and rocky spires, powerful waterways, like Succor Creek, are a refuge for sensitive wildlife such as California bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and redband trout. Many desert canyons are also sacred and traditional sites for the Northern Paiute people and other indigenous communities who continue to live and gather food and medicine in Oregon’s high desert.

Sean Bagshaw   Website

[bctt tweet=”How exciting that Oregon could become the national leader in Wild and Scenic Rivers! Thanks, @RonWyden and @SenJeffMerkley! http://bit.ly/WSRpressrelease” via=”no”]

Salmon-bearing Rivers

Salmon and steelhead journey hundreds of miles deep into northeastern Oregon to spawn in the North Fork John Day and its tributaries. Stretching nearly 40 miles through spectacular scenery, the last unprotected stretch of the North Fork John Day also provides wild water and rare solitude for boaters willing to make the trek to enjoy its remote canyonlands.

Greg Burke   Website

[bctt tweet=”I’m so glad to see desert rivers included in @RonWyden and @SenJeffMerkley’s Wild and Scenic rivers proposal. Way to go, Senators! http://bit.ly/proposedWSRMap” via=”no”]

Desert creeks

From nesting songbirds to sensitive native trout, desert creeks are vital to life in an otherwise arid landscape. Guano Creek, on the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, is one example of these ribbons of green bursting with life, each one an oases in the Sagebrush Sea.

Jim Davis