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Rogue Riverkeeper Celebrates 10 Years!

In 2009, KS Wild staff member Lesley Adams saw a niche for aquatic advocacy in the Rogue Basin. From suction dredge gold mining and stormwater pollution to dam removal and wild and scenic designations, the Rogue deserved more advocacy, specifically the protections afforded by the Clean Water Act. In 2009 Lesley started the Rogue Riverkeeper program as a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance and we are proud to be the watchdog for 

Thanks to strategic thinking, foresight, dedicated staff, and the many who love the Rogue, we have become a force for aquatic advocacy in the Rogue Basin. We have seen many successes over the years including the removal of Gold Ray Dam, growing a base of supporters 3500 strong, and getting legislation passed to prohibit suction dredge mining in over 24,000 miles of waterways throughout Oregon! We've also had plenty of challenges but we keep going because we believe everyone has a right to clean, drinkable, swimmable, fishable waters. 

We look forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary with you and at least 10 more years of clean water defense for the Rogue! 

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Join our $10 for 10 program!

For 10 years Rogue Riverkeeper has been the watchdog for the Rogue River Basin and we hope to continue to be for the next 10 but we can’t do it without YOU!

Can you give $10 a month for 10 more years of Rogue Riverkeeper?

You won't get fundraising asks! You won't get reminders to renew your membership! And you won't have to ask when the last time you donated was.

You will get the joy of knowing you're supporting a cause that you believe in. You will get cleaner, safer waterways. You will get Rogue Riverkeeper for another ten years. Sign up today!

SOU student & volunteer Robyn Janssen creates photo postcards to send to elected officials as part of the Save the Wild Rogue Campaign in 2009.

SOU student & volunteer Robyn Janssen creates photo postcards to send to elected officials as part of the Save the Wild Rogue Campaign in 2009.


In 2009 Rogue Riverkeeper was born. KS Wild staff member Lesley Adams saw the need for aquatic advocacy in the Rogue River Basin because of threats like suction dredge mining, stormwater pollution, and a massive fracked gas pipeline proposal for the Rogue. KS Wild’s Rogue Riverkeeper program was created and has been a force for clean water in the Rogue Basin ever since.

Rogue Riverkeeper’s first year was full and with only one staff member busy! Focus was primarily on organizational development, getting things up and running and figured out. Campaign focus included Clean Water Act permit reviews, Jordan Cove LNG, Gold Ray dam removal, suction dredge mining, and the Save the Wild Rogue campaign.

Thank goodness Lesley had the foresight, dedication, and determination to create a voice for the river we all love so much.

Cheers to 10 years!


In our second year, we were busy getting our feet wet. And we had a lot to celebrate! In 2010 we….

  • Founded a monitoring program for pollution permits. Over the past 10 years, we're reviewed and commented on more than 125 Clean Water Act permits for the waters of the Rogue that set limits on pollution. We make sure that polluters, developers, and industries are held accountable for meeting those limits on pollution.

  • Launched our Water Quality Monitoring Program to test for bacteria pollution.  After reports of high levels of bacteria in Ashland Creek, we started our monitoring program in collaboration with the City of Ashland and Southern Oregon University. Findings from our study are being used right now to inform a proposal to pipe the TID canal to protect and conserve water for the City of Ashland. Today, we sample for bacteria pollution at more than 20 sites across the watershed!

  • Celebrated the removal of the 3rd largest dam on the Rogue. In August 2010, the 100 year old Gold Ray Dam was removed to restore a free flowing river, improving fish passage and habitat. We joined river lovers for a "Victory Float", celebrating as we floated through the dam site, unobstructed for the first time in 100 years.

We are proud of these successes. Join us for another 10 years of victories for the Rogue!

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Water quality warnings in Lithia Park

Water quality warnings in Lithia Park

Year three. As watchdog for waterways in the Rogue Basin, we were keeping a close eye on pollution, bacteria, and other impacts to clean water. In 2011, we released a study in partnership with SOU and the City of Ashland on the findings of our water quality samples from 2010.

The City of Ashland was regularly posting “No Wading” signs in Lithia Park because of high bacteria levels in Ashland Creek. To determine the cause of the bacteria, we set sample locations along Ashland Creek from the reservoir to downtown Ashland. We also set sample locations along the Talent Irrigation District’s (TID) canal which runs through the hills of Ashland and then discharges into Ashland Creek above Lithia Park. After a summer of sampling and testing, we determined that the source for the bacteria was in fact the TID canal.

This issue, in turn, created our summer water quality monitoring program which continues to grow and provide a source of information to the public about where it is safe to recreate. Every summer volunteers, managed by an SOU intern, collect water samples from across the valley which are then tested for Ecoli to see if the waterway is safe for human contact. We post the test results to Swim Guide so people can see where it is safe to swim, boat, fish, and recreate. Today, we test more than 17 sites with the help of 10 volunteers and an intern.

Our Ashland Creek bacteria study is still being used today to help inform a decision by the City of Ashland to pipe the canal so as to conserve water and reduce bacteria levels in Ashland Creek.


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In 2012, Rogue Riverkeeper launched our “Curb to Creek” program. With partners at the City of Ashland, we set out to mark every city storm drain to help educate folks that all runoff drains directly into our creeks.


We mapped the city and located every storm drain. Then with the help of a stellar volunteer team, we moved throughout town marking each storm drain with markers reading, “No Dumping, Drains to Stream”. The blue and silver markers can still be seen all over town alerting folks to the fact that all runoff from our streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and other impermeable surfaces drains to these storm drains and then directly into our creeks.

We continue to work on stormwater issues throughout the valley acting as one of the few conservation voices supporting stronger regulation and enforcement for stormwater permits in our cities and towns and encouraging green infrastructure in local development.

Click here to learn more about our work on limiting polluted runoff in the Rogue Basin to protect clean water and fish.


2013 was a year of transition and change, growth and discovery.

Lesley Adams, founder and original Rogue Riverkeeper moved on to join the Waterkeeper Alliance to work with Waterkeepers across the West. After 4 years of leading the organization, Lesley saw an opportunity to continue to work to protect the Rogue as well as watersheds throughout the Pacific Region.

Forrest English became the Rogue Riverkeeper taking the organization into it’s next chapter focusing on suction dredge mining reform, stopping the Jordan Cove LNG project, and wastewater treatment plant impacts in the Rogue Basin. Forrest’s knowledge of the Rogue Basin and the Clean Water Act put him in position to lead the organization’s policy work for the next 3 years.

Robyn Janssen was hired on as Clean Water Campaigner to create and grow Rogue Riverkeeper’s membership and outreach programs. In 2013, she developed Rogue Riverkeeper’s membership program welcoming on 200 new members as well as creating an annual Celebrate the Rogue Raft Trip & BBQ and the first year of hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

Lesley Adams, Founder of Rogue Riverkeeper

Lesley Adams, Founder of Rogue Riverkeeper

Forrest English, Rogue Riverkeeper 2013 - 2016

Forrest English, Rogue Riverkeeper 2013 - 2016

Robyn Janssen, Clean Water Campaigner and now Rogue Riverkeeper.

Robyn Janssen, Clean Water Campaigner and now Rogue Riverkeeper.

2013 was an important year for Rogue Riverkeeper with the creation of our outreach and membership programs. We were on our way to becoming more visible within the community being recognized as the voice and watch dog for clean water in the Rogue Basin.


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In 2014, Rogue Riverkeeper was busy getting out into local communities to grow our No LNG and Suction Dredge Mining campaigns. We held rallies, events, presentations and more to spread the word and get others to stand up for the Rogue!

A No LNG Rally in Shady Cove brought out 100 people to show opposition to the project.

We hosted our 2nd annual Celebrate the Rogue Raft Trip & BBQ and joined over 100 people on the river and for a riverside BBQ.

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We also hosted our 2nd annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival to a crowd of over 300 at SOU. We were making a name for our relatively unknown two person program and people were starting to catch on. However, our work to stop harmful projects and activities in waterways in the Rogue Basin was being pushed to the limits with only two staff and limited resources. Momentum was growing, but our capacity to cover multiple campaigns with only two people was not.

Sarah at a No LNG Rally in Medford, 2015.

Sarah at a No LNG Rally in Medford, 2015.

As the No LNG campaign ramped up, we fixed our sights on hiring some part time help to help get turn out for upcoming FERC hearings. Thanks to a recommendation by our campaign partner and friend Hannah Sohl, we offered a part time position to local organizer Sarah Westover. It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made!

Sarah picked up the campaign and ran with it! With only two weeks to organize, Sarah and a team of volunteers got over 300 people to show up to a FERC hearing in Medford where floor space and hallways were utilized to fit everyone into the room. Sarah not only exceeded our expectations but she turned a slow, quiet campaign into the biggest campaign that Rogue Riverkeeper has ever been involved with.

Thanks to her determination and hard work, the No LNG, No Pipeline campaign is a statewide issue with thousands of people engaged to Stop the Jordan Cove LNG project.

Thank you Sarah!