Bill Introduced to Protect Molalla River as a Wild and Scenic RiverFebruary 17th, 2011
<p>Kavita Heyn, American Rivers, 503-827-8648, cell: 971 409 8779<br />Mike Moody, Molalla River Alliance, 503-699-8704, cell: 503-539-9229<br />Erik Fernandez, Oregon Wild, 503-283-6343 x202, cell: 971-230-4484</p>
Washington – American Rivers, the Molalla River Alliance, and Oregon Wild today applauded Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Kurt Schrader (D- OR- 5th) for reintroducing legislation that will protect 22 miles and 7,000 acres along the Molalla River in Oregon as a Wild and Scenic River. Cosponsors of the Molalla River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act include Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Representative Earl Blumenauer, (D-OR-3rd), Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4th), and Representative David Wu (D-OR-1st).
Wild and Scenic legislation for the Molalla River passed the House of Representatives in 2010 and was approved by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources but did not receive a vote in the Senate.
“The Molalla River is an Oregon gem, providing drinking water, numerous recreational opportunities, cold waters for native fish, and scenic beauty for visitors and locals alike,” said Kavita Heyn of American Rivers. “There is great momentum to carry this bill over the finish line and get the legislation passed in this Congress.”
The Molalla River Alliance is a unique all-volunteer coalition that supports the Wild and Scenic designation. The City of Molalla, Clackamas County, the Molalla Police Department, and several user groups and property owners are part of this Alliance and have identified the protection of the river to be a priority for the coalition.
“The Molalla River Alliance’s mission is to preserve water quality and to sustain the wildlife, fish and plants that inhabit its watershed, while promoting a safe and healthy environment that encourages diverse enjoyment of the recreation corridor, including tourism and family-friendly activities,” said Mike Moody, president of the Molalla River Alliance. “We see Wild and Scenic legislation as a significant step forward in achieving these goals. We are committed to ensuring it is successful.”
Erik Fernandez from Oregon Wild said, “We commend Congressman Schrader and Senator Wyden for leading the effort to protect clean drinking water for Oregonians in Canby and Molalla.” “Protecting our municipal watersheds is a far better deal for the taxpayer than building expensive water treatment plants.”
The Molalla River is only 50 miles from Portland, but remains a true remnant of Oregon’s historic landscape, winding through cedar, hemlock, old-growth Douglas fir forests and basalt rock canyons from its headwaters in the Table Rock wilderness.
The river provides drinking water for the cities of Canby and Molalla, and cold, clean habitat for wildlife and fish, including winter steelhead. The river is also used for hiking, fishing, rafting, and wildlife viewing, and is visited by thousands of visitors each year. However, it is precisely these special attributes that also put the river at risk from increasing overuse and damage if it is not protected and managed sustainably.
A Wild and Scenic designation protects riverbanks from harmful development, blocks dams and other 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 by supporting recreation and tourism and protecting the quality of life.