What is the National Blueways Initiative?
In May of 2012, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar announced the new National Blueways System, a key element of America’s Great Outdoors, and designated the Connecticut River Watershed – covering areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut – as the nation’s first blueway. Yesterday, a second river was added to the list, the White in Arkansas.
The National Blueways System was established to recognize rivers that are being protected and restored through diverse stakeholder partnerships that use a comprehensive watershed approach to resource stewardship. It helps to coordinate federal, state, and local partners to promote best practices, share information and resources, and encourage active and collaborative stewardship of rivers and their watersheds across the country.
The designation recognizes the history, beauty of value of healthy rivers and provides an opportunity to build upon the conservation, recreational, and educational and economic benefits they provide to communities along them.
The National Blueway designation differs from existing federal designations for rivers (e.g., Wild and Scenic), which generally cover only a segment of a river and a narrow band of the riparian corridor.
A National Blueway, by contrast, includes the entire river from its “headwaters to mouth” as well as the river’s watershed.
National Blueways designations are intended to recognize and support existing local and regional conservation, recreation, and restoration efforts, and do not establish a new protective status or regulations.
For more information and to see if your river might be a fit for the National Blueways System, contact American Rivers’ Director of River Protection, Jamie Mierau.
There have been a number of comments and questions on this post about the the National Blueways System and what it means to property rights. So I updated this post.
The National Blueways System System recognizes and supports a new generation of river partnerships that connect communities to our shared natural heritage, to outdoor recreation opportunities, to sustainable economies, and to each other.
Because the National Blueways System is voluntary, locally-led and non-regulatory, a designation has no effect on private property or water rights and gives no new power or land to the federal government. Designations are community driven with support from decision-makers at all levels of government.
The system strives for government efficiency by encouraging federal agencies to work together to utilize successful programs that already exist. The best part, it will help to ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy clean, healthy rivers and benefit from a strong local economies.