Washington, DC -- Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to protect 31 miles of California’s rivers as federal Wild and Scenic Rivers and 190,000 acres of wilderness. The California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act (H.R. 3682), sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) designates the following four rivers as Wild and Scenic: Bautista Creek, Palm Canyon Creek, the North Fork San Jacinto River and Fuller Mill Creek.
These rivers and their surrounding lands offer habitat for threatened and endangered plant and animal species, including the California spotted owl and Quino checkerspot butterfly. Further, they have significant cultural and historical value as Native Americans depended on them for their plant and water resources.
“California is home to some of our country’s most spectacular rivers. Today, we can be sure that some of these natural gems will stay clean and wild and free for generations to come,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers.
“Protecting our last, wild rivers is more important than ever thanks to climate change,” Wodder added. “These new Wild and Scenic River designations will help ensure that we continue to have clean water and that fish and wildlife can continue to thrive.”
Southern California is known for its vast public wild lands. Places such as Joshua Tree National Park, Beauty Mountain, and the South Fork San Jacinto River provide wildlife habitat, clean water and a reconnection to our national heritage. Designating the region’s crown jewels as Wild and Scenic Rivers and as wilderness will keep these beautiful streams, mountains, winding canyons, and rugged desert landscapes just as they are today. These areas are now preserved for residents and visitors to enjoy hiking, camping, rock climbing, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, or just as they drive by.
This year, 2008, marks the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, our country’s strongest river protection tool.
About Wild & Scenic Rivers
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers system includes more than 165 of the nation’s most outstanding rivers.
To be eligible for wild and scenic river designation, a river must be free-flowing and have at least one outstanding resource value, such as recreation, scenery, wildlife and fish habitat, history, geology, or other similar values. Rivers may be added to the system by an act of Congress. Or, if a river is protected through a state program, it may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior upon official request by the governor.
To protect and enhance the resource values for which a river was designated, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act affords a river legal protection from adverse development impacts.
- Forbids the construction of new federally licensed dams
- Limits inappropriate streamside development
- Protects the river’s unique values
- Mandates the creation of a management plan for the wild and scenic river
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.