Landmark Bill Protecting more than 600 Miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers and Public Lands Passes U.S. House

February 26, 2019

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

(Washington) — American Rivers today applauded the passage of a landmark bill protecting Wild and Scenic Rivers and other public lands and waters nationwide.  The U.S. House passed S. 47, the largest package of Wild and Scenic River designations in nearly a decade. The U.S. Senate passed the same bill earlier this month by a vote of 92-8.

“This is the biggest advancement for river protection that we’ve seen in nearly a decade,” said Bob Irvin, President and CEO of American Rivers. “As we celebrate 50 years of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, it is fitting that there is bipartisan support for protecting hundreds of miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers from Massachusetts to California, including adding protections for tributaries of the Rogue River, one of the original eight rivers protected in 1968.”

“We are especially grateful to Rep. Grijalva and Rep. Bishop, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, for their commitment and leadership in championing this important, bipartisan legislation. Clean, free-flowing rivers are vital for our drinking water supplies, local economies and the outdoor recreation industry. We urge the President to sign this important bipartisan legislation.”

The legislation is a reflection of the years of hard work by local communities, businesses and river groups including the Nashua River Watershed Association, American Whitewater, the Farmington River Watershed Association, Molalla River Alliance, and K.S. Wild.

The bill adds more than 600 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, forever protecting them from new dams and other harmful development. The bill protects:

  • 256 miles of the Rogue, Molalla, Nestucca, and Elk rivers in Oregon
  • 110 miles of the Wood-Pawcatuck rivers in Rhode Island and Connecticut
  • 76 miles of Amargosa River, Deep Creek, Surprise Canyon and other desert streams in California
  • 63 miles of the Green River in Utah
  • 62 miles of the Farmington River and Salmon Brook in Connecticut
  • 52.8 miles of the Nashua, Squannacook and Nissitissit rivers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

The bill includes other critical river protection and restoration measures, including:

  • Authorization of the Initial Development Phase of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, a long-term climate adaptation, water supply reliability, river restoration and lands management plan for farms, fish and people in Washington state.
  • Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the nation’s largest and most important conservation program that provides hundreds of millions of dollars annually to secure the purchase and protection of public lands.
  • Creation of the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary, protecting steelhead habitat in Oregon’s North Umpqua River watershed in honor of Frank Moore, a World War II veteran and his wife, Jeanne, beloved stewards of the river.
  • Mineral withdrawals to protect the Yellowstone River in Montana, the Methow River in Washington and the Wild and Scenic Chetco River in Oregon from harmful mining.
  • The long-overdue name change for Oregon’s Wild and Scenic Whychus Creek.

Along with the designation of East Rosebud Creek in 2018, Montana’s first new Wild and Scenic River in 42 years, today’s action is a major step forward for the 5,000 Miles of Wild® campaign, an effort led by American Rivers, American Whitewater, NRS, OARS, YETI, REI, Nite Ize, Keen Footwear and other partners to protect 5,000 additional river miles and 1 million acres of riverside by October of 2020. See https://www.5000miles.org/about/