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Act now: Urge the Washington Department of Ecology to protect the Cascade, Green and Napeequa river systems as outstanding waters.  

Washington’s rivers are central to life in our state and vital to a thriving, sustainable future for our communities. They provide clean drinking water, support local economies, are critical to the health and abundance of fish and wildlife species, and provide numerous recreation opportunities for Washingtonians and visitors.

But many of Washington’s rivers, streams, and wetlands face growing threats, including drought, diminished snowpacks, increasing temperatures, wildfire, development, and pollution. 

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to work together to safeguard a number of our state’s waterways as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW). Outstand Resource Waters designations help protect waters of exceptional recreational, environmental, or ecological significance. Once a waterway is designated as an ORW, existing activities can continue, but new degradation of water quality is forbidden, meaning that current uses or activities, including mining, timber harvest, grazing, and recreation may continue, but new actions that could damage an ORW are prohibited. 



On July 18, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) released a proposed regulation to designate the first-ever ORWs in the state.  Designation of these river systems would benefit Washington’s people, economy, wildlife, and salmon. Plus, if the implementation of Washington’s first ORW designations is a success it may pave the way to secure protections for other high quality waterways throughout the state! That’s one of the reasons it’s critical that you speak out in favor of these proposed designations.  

The Green River, flowing through the Green River Valley near Mount St. Helens is a special place that we’ve been working to protect from the threat of a new open-pit mine for well over a decade. Community groups have continually stated that this is no place for a mine and fought a proposed mine in this watershed for over 15 years. The District Court has found in CFC’s favor several times, most recently vacating exploratory drilling permits in February of 2021. Although the best solution remains a mineral withdrawal, designating the Green River as an ORW constitutes a tangible move by the Department of Ecology to support the community’s belief that the Green River is a unique and special place, deserving of additional protection. An ORW designation would provide an extra layer of protection for the nominated portions of the Green River and, at the very least, make it harder and more expensive to mine.




How to Comment:

Submit your comments online at the Department of Ecology’s website HERE by September 27th.

Select which river or rivers you’d like to comment on and then personalize your comments in the text box. You can maximize your impact by personalizing your comments.

Do you have a personal connection to any of the rivers? How do you enjoy the Green River (near Mount St. Helens), the Cascade River, and/or Napeequa River?  Sharing your connection with the rivers and why you personally would like to see them protected can go a long way. 

Here are some general talking points to support ORWs:

  • Washington’s rivers, streams, and wetlands supply drinking water to residents across the state, sustain wildlife habitat, and provide an economic boost to local communities. 
  • As a Washingtonian, I want to see the state’s precious freshwater resources safeguarded.  
  • Washington’s waters are under increasing threat as the climate warms and the population grows, placing greater stress and demand on freshwater resources.  Now is the time to protect some of the state’s most outstanding waters and prevent degradation of stretches of rivers, streams, wetlands and other freshwater bodies with high water quality or other unique characteristics. 
  • I urge Ecology to designate the Cascade, Green, and Napeequa river systems as the state’s first Outstanding Resource Waters so that Washingtonians can enjoy these waters now and for generations to come. 


Why is the Green River special to you? Please use the information below about the Green River to help explain why protecting this waterway matters to you personally. 

  • The Green River is a very unique river deserving of one of Washington’s first ORW designations. 
  • The Green River is an eligible Wild and Scenic River, a designated gene bank for winter steelhead populations, and provides excellent spawning habitat for endangered salmon.
  • The forests along the Green River contain some of the last remaining stands of old-growth trees in the area to survive the Mount St.Helens blast. These old-growth stands supply critical habitat for old-growth dependent species, like the northern spotted owl.
  • Recreation opportunities along the Green River are abundant. The Green River Trail, Goat Mountain Trail, and Green River Horse Camp along this spectacular river are enjoyed by mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders, hunters, and anglers.


Join CFC in urging the Washington Department of Ecology to do everything they can to protect these treasured rivers for future generations. Send your message today!

It is essential that the state take steps now to protect some of its remaining high-quality rivers that provide numerous benefits to Washingtonians.  Safeguarding Washington’s rivers will ensure that these treasures are protected for current and future generations. Thank you for speaking up in support of this important cause.


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