The bill was brought forward in February 2021 and has yet to be passed.
This came following the nomination of more than 15,000 rivers and streams by nearly 2,500 Oregonians.
A growing number of businesses from across Oregon are supporting Sens. Wyden and Merkley’s initiative, and are urging Congress to pass the bill.
A letter released in late September was signed by businesses from every corner of the state ranging from outdoor recreation outfitters to “mom and pop shops."
The letter reads in part, "The Oregon economy relies heavily on outdoor recreation, for which clean water and a healthy environment are necessary. Restaurants, hotels, guides, and outdoor adventure stores all rely on protected waters and lands to draw tourism to our state.”
Priscilla Macy, Executive Director of Oregon Outfitters & Guides Association, brought the letter to Newswatch 12's attention. She says outdoor recreation is the backbone of Oregon’s economy.
"According to a recent study by travel Oregon, 95% of Oregonians participate in outdoor recreation each year so we know that the number is growing."
In 2019 alone, Oregonians and out-of-state travelers spent $15.6 billion on outdoor recreation and related expenses, supporting 224,000 jobs.
“Having healthy rivers is key to our fifty-five year old Oregon business,” said Zac Kauffman of Sawyer Paddles & Oars in Gold Hill. “Now more than ever, people seek to visit the rivers, lakes, and streams of our region, and by protecting Southern Oregon’s rivers, Senators Wyden and Merkley are investing in the economic engine that makes our state run.”
Currently, only 2% or 2,173 miles of the state’s 110,000 miles of rivers are protected as Wild and Scenic, and the River Democracy Act would increase that to 6%.
The roughly 200 businesses who signed the letter today come in addition to the over 50 breweries who sent a letter earlier this summer in support of the legislation.