Protection for Instream Flows

Victory! Oregon protects North Fork Smith Watershed Instream Flow

The instream flows of the North Fork of the Smith River and its tributaries in Oregon are now protected. The Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) approved new protections for the instream uses of these waters—namely fish, wildlife, and recreation. This is a critical step in safeguarding the waters of the Smith River watershed in Oregon.

Flowing from Southwest Oregon’s rugged Kalmiopsis Wilderness, the waters of the North Fork of the Smith River and its tributaries are exceptionally pure, providing pristine habitat for world-class salmon fisheries and supplying drinking water for downstream communities. A National Wild and Scenic River, the North Fork Smith River offers outstanding recreational opportunities that draw anglers, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts providing revenue for local tourism-based economies.

The vast majority of the North Fork Smith River watershed in Oregon is within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and includes land within the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area and two Inventoried Roadless Areas, and has been identified as critical for recovering salmon and trout populations.

These protections are not enough and state action was needed to ensure that the waters of the Smith River watershed are secure for fish, wildlife and recreation.

The OWRD is accepting public comment through 5:00 PM Friday, October 28th. It is vital that you speak in favor of the their rule-making effort and support them in their effort to protect the drinking water and instream beneficial uses of the Smith River watershed.

For more information on the rulemaking, visit: When you arrive on this page, please scroll down to the section entitled “Division 517, South Coast Basin Program.”