Victory for North Fork Smith River

For Immediate Release

December 7, 2017

Lisa Brown, WaterWatch of Oregon Staff Attorney, 503-295-4039 Ext 4,
Grant Werschkull, Smith River Alliance, 916-715-9898,

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Victory for North Fork Smith River

Today, WaterWatch of Oregon, American Rivers, Smith River Alliance, and American Whitewater applauded the Oregon Water Resources Commission’s decision to reserve the surface waters of the North Fork Smith for the support of instream fish and wildlife, recreation, livestock, and domestic human consumption. The Commission also limited groundwater development in the subbasin. This decision protects fish, wildlife, recreation, and water quality and is a major win for one of the most spectacular, remote, and unique rivers in southern Oregon.

A coalition of local, statewide, and national groups and businesses – including WaterWatch, American Rivers, Smith River Alliance, and American Whitewater – worked since 2015 to help pave the way for today’s decision.

“Today’s decision is important, as it will help safeguard the pristine waters of the North Fork Smith River into the future,” said Lisa Brown, staff attorney for WaterWatch of Oregon. “We’d like to thank the Commission for taking this needed step to protect the spectacular North Fork Smith.”

The waters of the Smith River are among the purest on the planet. They sustain threatened fish, such as coho salmon, and rare plants while providing clean drinking water to downstream communities and offering world-class whitewater boating opportunities. The North Fork Smith is home to abundant and diverse populations of winter steelhead, fall chinook, resident rainbow trout, and both resident and sea-run cutthroat trout.

The wild salmon and steelhead found in the North Fork play a central role in the region’s local tourism economy, attracting anglers from around the world — as well as being a local recreation favorite.