Wild and Scenic Rivers: Three Columbia Tributaries

All photos © Alison M. Jones

This week’s blog in our series on Wild and Scenic Rivers focuses on the Crooked, Metolius and McKenzie Rivers – three Oregon tributaries to the Lower Columbia River. All three were added simultaneously to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System on Oct. 28, 1988. NWNL documented these tributaries in Oct. 2017 during its 5th  Columbia River Basin Expedition. More about this Pacific Northwest, transboundary watershed is on our Columbia River General Characteristics page. For more on the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, read Part 1 of this blog series.

Crooked River

(Scroll over photos for captions)

The Crooked River reach from the National Grassland boundary to Dry Creek (17.8 miles) is designated as a “Recreational” National Wild and Scenic River. According to the National Wild and Scenic River website, this part of the  Crooked River is a popular destination for outdoor activities, including whitewater boating, hiking, kayaking and fishing for steelhead, brown trout and native rainbow trout.

Metolius River

On the Metolius River, 28.6 miles between the Deschutes National Forest boundary and Lake Billy Chinook are part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. In this section, 17.1 miles are designated as “Scenic,” and 11.5 miles are designated as “Recreational.” The Metolius River and its headwaters, pictured above, are well known for beautifully clear water and excellent opportunities for fly fishing. The Lower Metolius is now managed as a “primitive area” with no motorized access.

McKenzie River

On the McKenzie River, 12.7 miles are designated as “Recreational” under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act – from Clear Creek to Scott Creek (not including the Carmen and Trail Bridge Dam Reservoirs). According to rivers.gov, the McKenzie River is recognised for a combination of “outstandingly remarkable values of fish, scenic quality, recreation, hydrology/geology, and water quality.” Its exceptionally-high water quality offers great habitat for many wild fish, including three native species: rainbow, bull and cutthroat trout.

More information about the National Wild and Scenic River System is at rivers.gov.

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