National Wild and Scenic Rivers System

Logo of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act into law.

The National Wild and Scenic River is a designation for certain protected areas in the United States.

History

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was an outgrowth of the recommendations of a Presidential commission, the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC). Among other things, the commission recommended that the nation protect wild rivers and scenic rivers from development that would substantially change their wild or scenic nature. The act was sponsored by Sen. Frank Church ( D- Idaho) and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 2, 1968. A river or river section may be designated by the U.S. Congress or the Secretary of the Interior. In 1968, as part of the original act, eight rivers were designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers ( Clearwater, Eleven Point, Feather, Rio Grande, Rogue, St. Croix, Salmon, and Wolf). [1] As of July 2011, 203 rivers, totaling 12,598 miles of river in 38 states and Puerto Rico, have wild and scenic status. [2] By comparison, more than 75,000 large dams across the country have modified at least 600,000 miles, or about 17%, of American rivers.

The Taunton River in Massachusetts is a Wild & Scenic River

Selected rivers in the United States are preserved for possessing outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values. Rivers, or sections of rivers, so designated are preserved in their free-flowing condition and are not dammed or otherwise impeded. National wild and scenic designation essentially vetoes the licensing of new hydropower projects on or directly affecting the river. It also provides very strong protection against bank and channel alterations that adversely affect river values, protects riverfront public lands from oil, gas and mineral development, and creates a federal reserved water right to protect flow-dependent values.