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Why it Matters?|
How should America balance development with protecting
our most important, spectacular rivers? Congress settled this
question 40 years ago by passing the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Act declared that certain rivers "shall be
preserved in free-flowing condition for the benefit and enjoyment of present
and future generations." On October 2,
1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Act into law, and in so doing,
protected several rivers named in the Act.
the Act also created methods by which the American people could go on to name
other rivers to be legally protected as well. In the 40 year life of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 166 rivers have
come to form the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
These rivers have special attributes - scenic vistas, important fish and wildlife
habitats, outstanding recreational opportunities, or geologic, historic, or
cultural significance - that merit their preservation in free-flowing
Over 3,400 other rivers
are potentially eligible for protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,
and the Act spells out how advocates can seek additional designations. A nonprofit organization, American Rivers,
has launched a campaign to designate 40 new rivers in recognition of the Act's
40th anniversary, and community advocates can also organize efforts to have
their local rivers recognized. Securing Wild and Scenic status for our last,
best rivers is a powerful way to protect them.
Lamprey River, New Hampshire
Generation Next: Partnership Wild & Scenic RiversMany Wild & Scenic Rivers are located on federally owned lands-for instance, rivers that flow through national parks. But there is a new model emerging for rivers that travel along privately-owned land: Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers. This collaborative approach is important, says NPS staffer Joan Harn, because "We can't protect these rivers on our own-not even the ones that are exclusively in parks-because the watershed often extends well beyond our boundaries." It takes community effort and awareness to safeguard these resources.
River in coastal New Hampshire, is a good example of the Partnership
Wild & Scenic model. Celebrating 12 years of stewardship since
federal designation, the Lamprey River Advisory Committee has helped
conserve more than 1800 acres in the 26-mile river corridor, which support
wildlife, protect clean,
and maintain scenic and rural character. In 2008,
the Committee published a river tour brochure about the
river's special places. With its
sister organization, the Lamprey River Watershed Association, the
embarked on an invasive species project and became a leader in
knotweed. "2008 was also a banner year for
land conservation with conservation easements placed on 5 parcels
acres and almost a mile of riverfront," says Julie Isbill, NPS liaison to the Committee.
The first step in becoming a Partnership Wild & Scenic River is conducting a study, in partnership with the National Park Service, to determine what is special about your river. A bill must be passed authorizing the National Park Service to conduct a study. The process takes 2-3 years and is funded by the federal government (there is no local match required, except time). Initiating a study evolves through grassroots organizing in the river communities, and usually culminates in a written request for a study from local officials to your members of Congress. After the study is completed, the study committee and communities will make a determination about seeking Partnership Wild & Scenic River designation.Catalysts
To learn more about the history of Wild & Scenic Rivers, check out the National Parks Conservation Association's
. For river-related funding or grants, search our NPS grants database. For research on the economic benefits of river protection, see our NPS annotated bibliography.
Scouts joining a Wild & Scenic Rivers celebration at New River, West Virginia
Beautiful Day to Celebrate Rivers
worth noting that the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act provides authorities for the NPS to help local communities with a range
of technical assistance on rivers through the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA). Every month, people helped by NPS accomplish
important goals for protecting rivers; here is a recent success in Iowa.
Conservation Success: North Raccoon River Water
On September 29th, over 100 supporters and
paddlers came together to celebrate the completion of the 160-mile North Raccoon River Water
Trail in central Iowa. River
supporters, the Iowa DNR, and the Raccoon River Watershed Association were
joined by representatives of Iowa's Congressional delegation for a day of food, music, and paddling.
RTCA staffer David Thomson helped Greene County Conservation Board to
design a water trail guide and map which features local business contact information, land based
trails in the area, town festivals along the river, and specific paddling
routes for beginners. The project's
success was shared by Central Iowa Paddlers, Iowa
Whitewater Coalition, Dallas County Conservation Board, and many other partners. For more information, please contact David Thomson.
|Let's Work Together|
Could your project benefit from 1-2 years' staff time from a National Park Service specialist?
If you're working on restoring a river, building a community trail, or making an urban park flourish, we'd love to talk with you about ways we could work together. Please call or email your regional representative today.
Klamath River, California (image: Tim Palmer)
The Update informs Department of the Interior staff, organizational partners, and friends about the program successes and activities of the National Park Service Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs. For more details, please contact the staff person involved with each project.
This e-newsletter may be copied or redirected. Our staff would be pleased to assist your editor in adapting each story for your publication; for more information, please call (202) 354-6918 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images courtesy National Park Service.