Landmark Bill Protects Nearly 620 Miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers and Public Lands Nationwide

February 6, 2019

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

David Moryc, 503-307-1137

(Washington) — American Rivers today applauded the passage of a landmark bill protecting Wild and Scenic Rivers and other public lands and waters nationwide. S.47 is the largest package of Wild and Scenic River designations in nearly a decade.

“This is a major step forward for rivers and public lands. These pristine waters and special places deserve the highest level of protection the nation can provide,” 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 nearly 620 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.”

“S. 47 is the biggest advancement for Wild and Scenic River protection that we’ve seen in nearly a decade. This legislation is the perfect tribute to the hard work of local river advocates nationwide, and a fitting celebration for all who value clean water and healthy rivers.”

“We are grateful to Senators Cantwell and Murkowski 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 House to pass this critical bipartisan legislation and send it to the President’s desk for signature.”

The bill adds nearly 620 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 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

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 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/

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, formerly known as Squaw Creek, a derogatory and obsolete term.