Willamette River Environmental Group Threatens Lawsuit Against Oregon

Willamette Riverkeeper, and environmental group, has filed a notice of intent to sue Oregon’s Department of State Lands and State Marine Board for threatening river habitats. The Oregon nonprofit stated that it will give the agencies 60 days to reply, moving on to a full lawsuit if no solutions are provided.  

The Riverkeeper pointed towards the Endangered Species Act, claiming that the artificial waves created by wakeurfing boats harm many of the state’s protected species, specifically salmon such as the chinook, coho, and steelhead. 

“Importing these waves to an inland river like the Willamette has a significantly detrimental impact to critical habitat and threatened species, and allowing this activity to occur is contrary to federal law,” said Elisabeth Holmes, the Riverkeeper’s attorney. 

At the head of this movement is the Riverkeeper’s executive director, Travis Williams, who previously filed an unsuccessful petition to enlist the Department of State Lands in prohibiting medium and large wakesurfing boats on the river.  

“Unfortunately, over the past few years, the advent of very heavy boats that sit deep in the water with the sole purpose of creating a surf wave are having a negative impact on the river’s habitat due to the large, artificial waves that slam into the shoreline and near-shore area,” said Williams. 

By Thomas Nguyen