The Willamette River Greenway Program, first proposed in 1966 by future Oregon governor Bob Straub, envisioned a nearly two-hundred-mile assemblage of public lands along the Willamette River for public use and environmental protection. While the Greenway Program fell far short of Straub’s original proposal, today it provides for significant riverside lands with a range of public benefits. The Greenway Program also offers a useful lens through which to view the successes and failures of Oregon’s environmental protection policies over the past few decades.
Travis Williams, executive director of Willamette Riverkeeper, has spent countless hours paddling the Willamette, becoming familiar with its flora, fauna, and human neighbors. In Willamette River Greenways, he combines personal narrative about his experiences on the river with nuanced consideration of the controversies and challenges of the Greenway Program. Williams sheds light on current land stewardship practices, revealing the institutional and leadership failures that endanger the river’s water quality and habitat, and looks to the program’s future. He also takes readers with him onto the water, sharing what it’s like to travel the river by canoe, paying homage to the river’s natural beauty and the host of wildlife species that call it home.
Part policy analysis, part advocacy, and all love letter to one of Oregon’s great rivers, Willamette River Greenways offers valuable perspective to policymakers, land use managers, and recreational river users alike.
About the Author
Travis Williams is the executive director of the environmental nonprofit Willamette Riverkeeper. He holds an MS in environmental science from Johns Hopkins University. In 2019, the Spirit Mountain Community Fund recognized his work with the Helping Hand Award, and in 2004 he was a recipient of the annual Skidmore Prize for his river protection advocacy.