Washington - American Rivers today applauded Oregon Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for introducing new legislation in the Senate that will protect the Molalla River in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The Molalla River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2009 will protect 21 miles, and approximately 7,000 acres of riverside land, through Wild and Scenic River designation. This is a companion bill to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives on June 9, 2009, by Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-5).
"The Molalla is truly one of our state's crown jewels. Wild and Scenic designation will help protect this river, the drinking water it provides, and its fish and wildlife from the threats of overuse and climate change," said Kavita Heyn, Associate Director of Oregon Conservation Programs for American Rivers. "We thank Senators Wyden and Merkley for being champions for the Molalla River, and again praise Congressman Schrader for crafting this important bill."
The Molalla River is the main drinking water source for the cities of Canby and Molalla. The river is only 50 miles from Portland, but remains a true remnant of the historical Oregon landscape, winding through cedar, hemlock, old-growth Douglas fir forests and basalt rock canyons. The river provides cold, clean waters and habitat for wildlife and native fish. However, more and more visitors each year use the river, putting the river and its values at risk if they are not safeguarded. Also, climate change threatens the Molalla River's wild winter steelhead and spring chinook through increases in stream temperature and changes to stream flows.
American Rivers worked with the Molalla River Alliance, who spearheaded this Wild and Scenic campaign. The Alliance is a diverse coalition of over 45 local groups that include Clackamas County, the City of Molalla, private landowners, and the Molalla Police, among many others.
A Wild and Scenic designation protects the land along both sides of a river, blocks dams and other harmful water projects, and preserves a river's free-flowing nature. It also helps protect and improve water quality, as well as the river's unique historic, cultural, scenic, ecological, and recreational values. Designation can also bring economic benefits to the surrounding region as well by supporting recreation and tourism and increasing the quality of life.
There are more Wild and Scenic Rivers in Oregon than in any other state in the nation. In March, thanks to the efforts of American Rivers and our partners, President Obama signed the second largest Wild and Scenic Rivers package in history into law, protecting more than 90 new river miles in Oregon, bringing the nationwide total of Wild and Scenic Rivers to 252.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.