National Wild and Scenic Rivers System

Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968


American Rivers

Powder River Basin Resources Council

Friends of the Missouri Breaks National Monument

Discover the
National Landscape Conservation


Rivers and streams are important to the flora and fauna, sportspeople and recreationists, and the history and character of the Sagebrush Sea, although relatively few rivers and streams in the region have been designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. Of those that have received protection, all but one are in Oregon.

Deep Creek, Owhyee Country, Idaho, is not designated as either Wild or Scenic under the Wild and Scenic River Act. (Amy Haak)
  • Upper Missouri River
  • Crooked River
  • Deschutes River
  • Donner and Blitzen River
  • John Day River
  • Kiger Creek
  • North Fork Crooked River
  • North Fork Owyhee River
  • Owyhee River
  • South Fork John Day River
  • West Little Owyhee River
  • Wildhorse Creek

Much of the Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River corridor and adjacent uplands are protected by the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument (although domestic livestock grazing and pre-existing natural gas development was allowed to continue inside the monument and along the river). [Click here to learn about efforts to conserve a 3.5 million acre wildland encompassing the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument {project map} and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.]

Many Sagebrush Sea rivers and streams are threatened by grazing, pollution, dams and dewatering. American Rivers named the Powder River in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana as one of the 10 Most Endangered Rivers in the United States in both 2001 and 2002 due to threats posed by massive coalbed methane development in the region. The rivers organization also designated the Walla Walla River and Yellowstone River as Endangered in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Both the Missouri and Snake Rivers, which flow through parts of the Sagebrush Sea, are regular additions to the top ten endangered rivers list.