Anglers, guides, and outfitters across Oregon support the River Democracy Act

In Oregon by Sophia Kaelke

More than 40 angling and hunting related businesses, organizations, and community groups in Oregon have released a letter of support for the River Democracy Act (Senate Bill 192), introduced in February of 2021 by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

The letter, released today, is a testament to the wide-ranging support of the bill across the state among a broad spectrum of angling interests, including industry associations representing commercial anglers, community groups, and guides and outfitting businesses. 

The letter states: “On public lands and waters like these, we teach our grandchildren to fish and hunt; we await ducks flying overhead at first light; we search every eddy, riffle, and pool for steelhead and trout; we navigate drift boats and rafts through rapids with guests from around the world. These places make our livelihoods possible, and our quality of life truly exceptional.”

Tye Krueger of Confluence Fly Shop commented, “The River Democracy Act will provide important protections for many of Oregon’s most popular rivers while safeguarding streams that serve as spawning and rearing habitat for steelhead, trout, and salmon. Guides and outfitters rely on healthy runs of fish not only to provide angling opportunities for customers, but also to support the long-term health of our businesses and way of life.”

The River Democracy Act would better protect 4,700 miles of rivers and streams across Oregon, including some nationally recognized fisheries like the McKenzie, North Umpqua, and Sandy Rivers. It will also protect key tributaries of the Deschutes, Metolius, and Rogue Rivers, among others – streams that serve as cold water refugia and provide spawning and rearing habitat for fish. The public land along these rivers also will be safeguarded for hunting, hiking, and wildlife habitat.

“As climate change and land and resource development put ever more pressure on our rivers and streams, it’s clear that we must do more to protect our water sources and aquatic habitats. Oregonians depend on these places for clean drinking water, healthy ecosystems, and diverse outdoor recreation opportunities. Entire industries are built around our shared public lands and waters.”

This bill is timely and essential for Oregon’s waterways. Karl Findling, owner of Oregon Pack Works, said: “As a lifelong Oregon big game and bird hunter, I’ve seen the connection between healthy riparian zones, clean water, and robust fish and wildlife populations firsthand. For hunters and anglers, rivers are the lifeblood of our way of life. Wild and Scenic protections will increase the possibility that clean water will run for fish, wildlife, and for many future generations of Oregonians. My business relies on robust opportunities for hunting and fishing, and I applaud Senators Wyden and Merkley for their efforts to increase Wild and Scenic protections across our great state.”

The letter can be viewed here.

For questions about the River Democracy Act, please contact Sophia Kaelke at