Elk River Wild and Scenic Study Bill Passes the House
A five mile stretch of river in the heart of West Virginia will be examined for permanent protectionSeptember 23rd, 2009
Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202-243-7023
David Moryc, American Rivers, 202-347-7550
Washington – West Virginia’s Elk River came one step closer to permanent protection yesterday, when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3113, the Upper Elk River Wild and Scenic Study Act. American Rivers, building on its success with the recent omnibus Wild and Scenic Rivers bill that protected 86 rivers in seven states, is urging Congress to swiftly grant Wild and Scenic designation to the Elk.
American Rivers applauded Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) for sponsoring this legislation that will authorize a study of the “Slatyfork” section of the Upper Elk River, a five mile stretch of cold headwaters in the heart of West Virginia, important for clean water and other economic and community benefits. The Upper Elk River is a unique river, flowing across karst, or limestone bedrock, and forming unique caves and waterfalls. The coldwater headwaters of the Upper Elk are home to some of the last naturally reproducing brook, brown, and rainbow trout fisheries in the east. A study of this section will identify the “outstandingly remarkable values” required for Wild and Scenic River designation.
West Virginia is home to some of the nation’s most remarkable rivers, however, only the Bluestone River is part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. Studying the Upper Elk River for potential Wild and Scenic River designation is the necessary first step towards protecting this outstanding river for future generations and increasing West Virginia’s protected rivers.
A Wild and Scenic designation creates a protected buffer along both sides of a river, blocks dams and other harmful water projects, and preserves a river’s free-flowing nature. It also helps protect and improve water quality, as well as the river’s unique historic, cultural, scenic, ecological, and recreational values. Designation can also bring economic benefits to the surrounding region as well by supporting recreation and tourism and protecting the quality of life.