PORTLAND, OR- 12.4 million people visited Oregon’s waterways like the Rogue and the Willamette Rivers over the past year, according to Environment Oregon’s new Summer Fun Index. The new factsheet comes as summer draws to close and as federal officials consider a new rule to restore protections for 61,000 miles of the state’s rivers and streams.
“Here in Oregon, we all know clean water means summer fun. Oregonians plan their vacations around jumping into Crater Lake and floating down the Sandy,” said Charlotte Bromley, campaign organizer with Environment Oregon. “Our Summer Fun Index shows how important it is to protect our waters.”
According to the index almost 1 million Oregonians have fishing licenses, tags or permits.
And the fun isn’t necessarily far from the big city. “People are slowly but surely discovering downtown Portland's stretch of the Willamette River,” said Willie Levenson of the Human Access Project. “In the summertime, Willamette River water temperatures range from 72-76 degrees, there is virtually no current, and there is an abundance of wildlife. As more and more Oregonians discover all that the Willamette has to offer, summers in Portland will only get better.”
But there’s more we need to do. Despite their popularity, more than half of Oregon’s rivers and streams are not guaranteed protection under the nation’s Clean Water Act, thanks to loopholes in the law secured by developers and other polluters nearly a decade ago.
In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule to restore protections for the headwaters, streams, and wetlands left in limbo by the loopholes; but agribusinesses, oil companies, and others are campaigning heavily against it.
The EPA is taking public comments on the measure until October 20, 2014. Already, Environment Oregon has gathered over 21,000 public comments in favor of restoring Clean Water Act protections to all of Oregon’s waters. Environment Oregon pointed to the statistics on how many people use and enjoy Oregon’s waterways as further support for the EPA’s proposed rule.
“Whether we enjoy them for fishing, boating, swimming or floating, we all have a stake in the health of the Willamette and the rest of our waterways,” said Bromley. “We should be doing everything we can to protect all of our rivers, lakes and streams so that we can continue to enjoy the many benefits of our waterways for generations to come.”
Environment Oregon’s Charlotte Bromley was joined in releasing the Summer Fun Index by Willie Levenson, founder, Human Access Project and Sam Drevo, Director, Northwest River Guides LLC & eNRG Kayaking at the Willamette Park boat docks in Portland.
Read the Summer Fun Index here.