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Upper Molalla River designated an Oregon Scenic Waterway


BLUE SKY RAFTING - Baby Bear Rapids in the Molalla River Recreation CorridorGov. Kate Brown signed an executive order Wednesday declaring a stretch of the upper Molalla River an Oregon Scenic Waterway.

A portion of the river above Glen Avon Bridge was chosen as it meets the Scenic Waterways Act criteria for outstanding scenic, fish, wildlife, geological, botanical, cultural, and outdoor recreation opportunities. "Oregon is blessed with a diversity of river systems that richly contribute to our quality of life, and Oregonians value our rivers' importance to our economies, communities, and ecosystems," Gov. Brown said. "Stewardship of our rivers is increasingly important as our population grows and our climate changes."

MOLALLA RIVER ALLIANCE - The basalt rosette formation in the upper Molalla River Recreation Corridor.Local advisory groups, including Molalla River Alliance and Molalla River Watch, supported the scenic waterway designation for sections of the river.

This means the designated portion of the river is protected for future generations to enjoy its outstanding natural and recreational values, said John Atkins, Molalla River Alliance president.

The Molalla Scenic Waterway starts at the Glen Avon Bridge and continues upriver for 13 miles through the corridor.

“We’re delighted the governor has declared the upper Molalla River an Oregon Scenic Waterway,” Atkins said. “The Molalla River Alliance and its affiliates have been looking forward to this moment for more than a year. In our eyes, the process leading up to the governor’s declaration could not have been more open and inclusive—from the careful research carried out by professional staff from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, to the extensive public outreach, to the involvement of a citizens advisory committee representing key stakeholders in developing a management plan for the Molalla Scenic waterway. It couldn’t have gone any better.

“It’s our hope that the work  that went into achieving this declaration—the first such action in more than 25 years—will serve as a model for designating other deserving Oregon Rivers as official scenic waterways in the years to come.”

Bill Taylor, of Molalla River Watch, has been a part of the citizen advisory committee during the public designation process and planning.

BLM - Map of Molalla River Scenic Waterway “Molalla River Watch would like to thank the state for designating a portion of the upper Molalla River as an Oregon State Scenic Waterway,” Taylor said. “The designation will help preserve and enhance the many values our beautiful river offers. We look forward to working with the State, Salem District Bureau of Land Management, many other partners, and local citizens to make the Molalla River Watershed an even better place for fish, wildlife, and people.”

Atkins said it is important to note that something like 65,000 trips per year are being made up the Molalla River corridor by people who enjoy the beauty and recreation it offers.

“The new BLM campgrounds offer places for families to go for hiking, swimming or fishing,” Atkins said. “The corridor is no longer a lawless place for drug or booze parties. That had gone on for years.”

He noted that the increasing number of visitors to the corridor will lead to an economic benefit for businesses in the city of Molalla, should tourism be promoted.

Oregonians voted to establish the Oregon Scenic Waterways Act in 1970 to protect the free-flowing character of designated rivers for fish, wildlife and recreation; protect and enhance scenic, cultural, and natural values; and establish a process and criteria for adding new rivers as scenic waterways. There are 1,150 miles of state scenic waterways on 19 rivers and Waldo Lake. No new scenic waterway has been designated since 1988.  The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the Governor's scenic waterways designation of sections of the Chetco River and Molalla River, and adjacent land within a quarter mile of these river sections. The Oregon Water Resources Commission agreed, and approved scenic waterway flow levels in these river sections to protect recreation, fish and wildlife.