The Oregon Scenic Waterways Act was created in 1970 with the understanding that certain Oregon rivers should be set aside for conservation. The Oregon State Scenic Waterways Act was modeled after the Federal Wild and Scenic Act in that it protects private property owners and upholds the “Outstanding Remarkable Values” of protected areas



The Oregon Scenic Waterways Act gained protection through statewide ballot Measure 9, passing with a 65% approval. 

"fish and wildlife [uses] are declared to be the highest and best uses of the waters. The free flowing character of these waters is to be maintained in quantities necessary for such uses."

––Voter’s Pamphlet, Oregon General Election 1970, (Sen. Don Willner, Rep. Paul Hanneman, and David P. Templeton)


The Upper Deschutes Scenic Waterways Act

The Upper Deschutes Scenic Waterways Act gained protection by statewide ballot Measure 7 in 1988. After this designation was made, a committee of tribes, State and Federal agencies, irrigation districts, and local government including Bend Parks and Rec. developed the Upper Deschutes Comprehensive Management Plan (UDCMP). Using the UDCMP as a framework, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), the agency in charge of administering the Scenic Waterways Program, promulgated its own regulations under OAR 736-040-0073 for management of this area. Both the UDCMP and subsequent regulations under OAR 736-040-0073 prohibited several types of development, including bridges, recognizing the conservationist intent of the Oregon Scenic Waterways Act.


Votes Passed

The Upper Deschutes Scenic Waterways Act gained protection by statewide ballot Measure 7 in 1988. It passed with 56% approval and a voter turnout of 75%.

 "In our development oriented society, it takes special diligence to protect our natural resources."

— Voter’s Pamphlet, Oregon General Election (1988) (Sen. Bill Bradbury, Sen. Jane Cease, Rep. Ron Cease, and Rep. Dave McTeague).


No Bridge designation

The Upper Deschutes was designed in the Management Plan for, “…dispersed recreation…” emphasizing, “… solitude, naturalness and independence from developed structures for activities.” It was not designed for clusters of usage. The no-bridge provision is consistent with that intent. In each section of river, this designation of no bridges was specified and the open space recreation intent was strengthened.


Governing the Upper Deschutes

The Upper Deschutes is managed by OAR 736-040-0073 along with the UDCMP. The prevailing authorities include OPRD along with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). In particular the UDCMP designates zones or areas for protection and defines what Outstandingly Remarkable Values each zone offers. These values incorporate various wildlife, as well as geologic, vegetative, cultural, and scenic attributes. Eighteen local, state, and federal agencies, along with tribal input, were involved with the creation of the plan. This included Deschutes County, the City of Bend, and the Bend Parks and Recreation Department