Great Rivers of the West

If we are to save the Great Rivers of the West, we need to know which rivers these are. Which are the streams that continue to nourish strong runs of wild salmon and steelhead or sustain healthy populations of native trout? Where is the water still cold and clean? Where do rare, ancient warm-water fish species still survive? Which rivers still support our nation’s most outstanding wildlife? And which streams constitute our core heritage of natural, unspoiled rivers?

Surveying the Rivers of the West

To create an inventory of our finest western streams, we turned to Tim Palmer, a noted author, photographer and river expert with 35 years of experience exploring western waterways. Our principal goal was to develop a list of the most outstanding natural rivers—the Great Rivers of the West. Criteria included free-flowing length, natural flow regime, water quality, biological health and habitat, ecological and regional diversity and recreational suitability. In the process of creating the survey, Mr. Palmer interviewed scientists and regional experts in order to make the study as comprehensive as possible.

The outcome is a state-by-state list of approximately 200 of the West's most outstanding rivers, some protected, some still vulnerable. The Great Rivers of the West is a new type of inventory to serve the modern needs of river conservation—a list that we can use to strategically inform our work.

You can download the survey using these links to PDFs on each state chapter.   

John Day River Oregon