I don’t need to tell you how important water is; it sustains us, our communities, and it shapes the world around us. None of this would be here without water. I also don’t need to tell you that much of the globe is facing a critical water shortage, impacting human and wildlife communities alike. Today, during World Water Day, we are taking the time to focus our attention on the importance of water resources and inspire the action needed to conserve and protect those resources.
While the bumper year for snow in California (and a normal year here in Oregon) has grabbed the headlines, the long term trends all point toward increasing droughts.
In Oregon, millions of people across the state depend on rivers as their primary source of drinking water. Oregon’s clean, natural rivers and streams also sustain salmon, steelhead, and other native fish populations, and these are the places where local families and visitors go to hike, camp, fish, hunt, cross-country ski, and enjoy our public lands.
Let's talk River Democracy Act
Back in 2019, anglers, paddlers, grade school students, local businesses, biologists, river-lovers and Oregonians of all types showed how much the state’s waterways mean to them when they sent in over 15,000 nominations for Senator Ron Wyden’s River Democracy Act. This historic legislation would protect 3,215 miles of rivers and streams across the state as Wild and Scenic, meaning additional safeguards for clean drinking water supplies, fish and wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation.
Currently, only 2% of Oregon’s 110,000 miles of rivers are protected under the federal Wild and Scenic River Act. The River Democracy Act can push that total to 5%, but it needs your help. This bill was born out of grassroots, public actions, and it will need public actions to get it passed through Congress. Show your support by becoming a citizen co-sponsor and writing/calling/tweeting to Senators Wyden and Merkley and your local elected representatives, urging them to pass the River Democracy Act.
From the crystal-clear headwaters of the Metolius, McKenzie, Grande Ronde, Deschutes, and Rogue Rivers, to the meandering desert streams of Owyhee country and the roaring rivers of the Coast Range, the River Democracy Act will ensure these rivers and water resources are protected and enjoyed for generations to come.
For this World Water Day, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your favorite river, lake, swimming or fishing hole. These places nourish us and nourish the ecosystems we all depend on. Our waters and rivers do so much for us; what can we do for them?