History and Function
The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Act (OSRA) was enacted in 1970. The purpose of the OSRA is to protect and preserve scenic rivers in their natural and free-flowing state with attention provided to enhancing scenic beauty, water conservation, fish, wildlife, and outdoor recreational values of present and future benefit to citizens of Oklahoma. In 1977 the present commission was created to oversee and implement provisions of the Oklahoma Scenic rivers Act for the Illinois and Flint Creek located in Adair, Cherokee, and Delaware counties, and that portion of the Barren Fork Creek located within Cherokee County.
What is a Scenic River?
A scenic river is a free-flowing stream or river that has been designated by the Oklahoma Legislature as possessing "such unique natural scenic beauty, water conservation, fish, wildlife and outdoor recreational values of present and future benefit to the people of the state" that they are in need of special protection.
What are our Scenic Rivers?
Oklahoma currently has six designated scenic rivers.
Named by French explorers for the Illini Indian tribe, the Illinois River begins in Hogeye, Arkansas.
Oklahomans have utilized the Illinois river for decades as a communal and agricultural resource, an aesthetic source of inspiration, and as a place for recreation. The Illinois River also provides habitat for an extensive range of plant and animal life. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife biologists estimate there are several species of fish swimming in the Illinois' waters.
There are many opportunities for recreating on the Illinois river, including camping, fishing, swimming, and floating. The OSRC maintains 11 areas which give the public access to enjoying these opportunities. There are 15 commercial flotation outfitters who rent rafts, canoes, and kayaks to visitors. Those with their own devices can also float the Illinois river by purchasing a Private Float Permit.
Barren Fork Creek
The Barren Fork is a tributary of the Illinois River and one of the most scenic water resources in Oklahoma. Its waters flow clear and cool through a background of striking woods.There has been contention over the spelling of this creek. A drought led locals to change the name of the Barren Fork, as it was barren of water. Some now contend its correct spelling is the Baron Fork.
There is no commercial floating on the creek, but those who wish to use their own devices to float it or want to visit for swimming and fishing can access it at Welling Bridge and Boy Scout Hole (for directions to, check our FAQ).
Flint Creek information coming soon..
Lee Creek, located in Sequoyah County, above the 420-foot MSL elevation, excluding that portion necessary for a dam to be built in the State of Arkansas with a crest elevation of no more than the 420-foot MSL elevation of no more than the 420-foot MSL elevation. The Oklahoma Water Resources board shall make such classifications, designations or adjustments to Oklahoma's water quality standards as required to allow the impoundment of water by said dam; and
Little Lee Creek, sometimes referred to as Little Lee's Creek, located in Adair and Sequoyah Counties, beginning approximately four (4) miles east-southeast of Stilwell, Oklahoma, and ending at its conjunction with Big Lee's Creek approximately two (2) miles southwest of Short, Oklahoma.
Upper Mountain Fork River above the 600-foot elevation level of Broken Bow Reservoir in McCurtain and LeFlore Counties:
This area of UMF is designated scenic. Most of it flows through this area. There is great fishing and even some commercial float outfitters to rent you a canoe if you don't have your own.