Major river protection package advances in Congress

December 4, 2014

December 4, 2014


(Washington, DC) – Seven rivers in five states are one step closer to permanent Wild and Scenic protection thanks to a package of bills that the House of Representatives approved today.  It is the first time in five years that the House has advanced Wild and Scenic River legislation. The House also approved additional provisions to protect rivers in Colorado and Montana. The legislation, which now heads to the Senate, provides a host of benefits for river health, local communities, and all Americans who enjoy fishing, boating, and river recreation.

The legislation grants federal Wild and Scenic River safeguards to Pennsylvania and Delaware’s White Clay Creek, Vermont’s Missisquoi River and Trout River, Oregon’s River Styx, and Washington’s Illabot Creek, Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, and Pratt River. These Wild and Scenic River designations will protect roughly 140 miles of rivers and more than 17,000 acres of riverside land.

“Protecting healthy, wild rivers is one of the best investments our country can make, and we applaud the House for passing this vital legislation,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers. “These rivers give us clean drinking water and flood protection, they provide fish and wildlife habitat and recreation, they are living links to our history and heritage, and they are engines that drive local economies. In so many ways, when we protect our rivers, we protect and revitalize our communities.”

The package also includes provisions to study fourteen additional rivers, totaling close to 140 river miles, for possible Wild and Scenic designation. Rivers to be studied include Oregon’s Cave Creek, Upper Cave Creek, Panther Creek, Lake Creek, and No Name Creek, Massachusetts’ Nashua River, Squannacook River, and Nissitissit River, Maine’s York River, and Rhode Island’s Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck rivers.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers system currently protects 12,598 miles of 203 rivers in 38 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico — less than one-quarter of one percent of the nation’s rivers.

A Wild and Scenic River designation is the strongest possible protection for a river in the U.S. It preserves a healthy, free-flowing river in its current condition, prohibiting new dams or inappropriate development, and safeguards water quality and riverside land. The designation also provides for the creation of a management plan, in partnership with local communities, to guide protection of special values such as native fish or outstanding scenery.

American Rivers and local partners have advocated for years in support of Wild and Scenic protections for these rivers.

Today’s legislation also includes measures long supported by American Rivers to permanently protect pristine rivers in Colorado and Montana. One provision, the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act, safeguards Southwest Colorado’s Hermosa Creek and its native fish and excellent recreation opportunities. Among the Montana provisions, one protects 430,000 acres of National Forest lands in the North Fork Flathead River watershed adjacent to Glacier National Park from new mining, and another protects 275,000 acres of pristine lands along the Rocky Mountain Front as Wilderness and National Conservation Areas.

“Local citizens have fought for decades to protect these magnificent rivers and landscapes,” said Irvin. “We’re thrilled to see these important river protections approaching the finish line.”

Learn more about Wild and Scenic Rivers.

National Wild and Scenic Rivers map

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 250,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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