By Paul Kuthe

The people (and paddlers) of Oregon have something to celebrate. Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order last week giving new scenic waterway designations to portions of the Chetco and Molalla rivers. What does that mean? For one, “Oregon Parks and Recreation Department must be notified of certain activities proposed within a quarter mile of the banks of Oregon’s designated scenic waterways.” Things like logging, mining, and building will need to receive additional approval before commencing.

The Molalla River has long been a favorite of local paddlers. It’s a beautiful river that comes tumbling out of the Cascade Mountains just east of the Willamette River Valley. The Molalla runs true to character as a stunning Pacific Northwest waterway with the usual moss-covered trees clinging precariously to towering basalt walls that cradle and contain the lively bouncing waters below. It’s provided an outdoor playground for campers, fisherman and paddlers, and the Molalla has fantastic swimming and scenic views for families and friends to enjoy all year round. What makes the Molalla stand out is that it’s not only a source of drinking water for the cities of Molalla and Canby, Oregon, but it’s also the home many native wildlife including several steelhead and salmon species that are listed as “threatened” under the Endanger Species Act. The new designation is the first time since 1988 that that a new State Scenic Waterway has been designated in Oregon.

“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,” said Governor Brown. “Stewardship of our rivers is increasingly important as our population grows and our climate changes.”

The new designation is something to be proud of here in Oregon. We care about protecting our rivers and streams and will do what it takes to keep them as they are… which is certainly cause for celebration.

–Paul Kuthe is a project manager, guide and instructor at Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe in Oregon.