5,000 Miles. 5,000 Stories. One Unified Voice for our Nation’s Rivers.

  • Delta River, AK | Tim Palmer
    Delta River, AK
    Tim Palmer

We are bringing together grassroots partners, individuals and businesses in a united campaign for wild rivers, in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 2018. Our goal is to protect 5,000 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers and one million acres of riverside lands nationwide.

As part of this effort, we are sharing stories of America’s rivers and the people who love them. By collecting 5,000 personal stories from people across the country and presenting them in film, social media and other channels, we will celebrate how rivers connect us all.

We will send one clear and unified message to our elected leaders: Our rivers are worth saving.

Who are we?

American Rivers is a national non-profit river conservation organization. We are working closely with campaign partner American Whitewater and other local and regional river conservation organizations nationwide. We are supported by corporate partners NRS, O.A.R.S. and Yeti Coolers.

Where are the 5,000 miles?

Local efforts to protect Wild and Scenic Rivers are underway across the country. They include:

Legislative efforts

1,500 miles will come from grassroots campaigns in twelve states to protect new Wild and Scenic Rivers through federal legislation. They are:

  • Colorado (Deep Creek and Crystal River: 49 miles and 15,000 acres of land)
    • Deep Creek, a tributary of the upper Colorado carves a rugged, steep and remote limestone canyon, creating one of Colorado’s most pristine wilderness rivers. The Crystal River, one of the few free flowing streams left in the state provides incredible scenery and recreation.
  • Maine (Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, York, Nashua and Wood-Pawcatuck Rivers: 134 river miles)
    • The Partnership Program protects nationally significant rivers that flow through privately-owned or state owned lands. The program engages communities in study, planning, and managing the river for the benefit of future generations.
  • Montana (Montanans For Healthy Rivers: 700 river miles and 224,000 acres of land)
    • Montanans for Healthy Rivers is a coalition of citizens, sportsmen, businesses and conservationists working to conserve 700 miles of the last, best free-flowing rivers and their abundant clean, cold and connected waters; vital fish and wildlife habitat; and boundless recreational opportunities in Montana.
  • New Mexico (Gila River and San Francisco River: 100 river miles and 32,000 acres of land)
    • The Gila River is the last major free-flowing river in New Mexico and provides significant economic value to the region with unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation, nature-based specialty travel and wilderness experience.
  • Oregon (Salmon Strongholds: 250 river miles and 250,000 acres of land)
    • The Wild Rivers area of Southwest Oregon, home to the Rogue, Illinois, Chetco and North Fork Smith River watersheds, is the largest undeveloped and biologically diverse landscape in the Western United States and is home to the highest concentration of wild rivers in the lower 48.
  • Vermont (Green Mountains Wild and Scenic Campaign: 125 miles and 40,000 acres)
    • American Rivers and American Whitewater are exploring a new campaign that would designate 24 eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers totaling over 125 miles on and around the Green Mountain National Forest.
  • Virginia (James and Rappahannock rivers)
    • Working with the James River Association and the Friends of the Rappahannock, we aim to protect James River headwaters streams including the Maury and Rivana rivers, as well as the Lower James River and the Rappahannock River.
  • Washington (North Cascades: 688 miles and 187,000 acres of land)
    • The Nooksack watershed is home to whitewater rivers, incredible mountain views and old-growth forests. These rivers and mountains in Seattle’s backyard provide world-class hiking, skiing, kayaking, fishing and hunting.
  • Washington (Wild Olympics: 454 miles of rivers 144,000 acres of land)
    • This effort led by American Whitewater and supported by American Rivers would preserve salmon and steelhead habitat and provide world-class outdoor recreation opportunities for hiking, camping, kayaking and hunting.
  • Wyoming (Upper Green River: 41 river miles and 13,000 acres of land)
    • Local landowners and ranchers played a critical role in defeating a recent dam proposal that would have destroyed this unique river and landscape. Now, it’s time to permanently protect the Green River, home to the “Path of the Pronghorn,” the longest mammal migration in the continental United States.

Administrative efforts

3,500 miles will come through federal administrative protections. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have launched or will be launching forest plan and management plan revisions for tens of millions of acres of federal lands. These plan revisions present an opportunity to administratively conserve thousands of new eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers. Including:
  • North Carolina: Nantahala Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
  • California: Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia National Forests
  • New Mexico: Carson and Farmington National Forests, New Mexico
  • Idaho: Nez Perce and Clearwater Rivers
  • Montana: Flathead, Helena, Custer Gallatin and Lewis and Clark National Forests
  • Oregon: Willamette, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Mt. Hood National Forests
  • Washington State: Gifford-Pinchot, Olympic, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie, Wenatchee National Forests

What are Wild and Scenic Rivers?

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.

12,000 miles of rivers currently enjoy Wild and Scenic River protection – rivers like the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Rogue, Chattooga, Tuolumne and New. But many rivers are still at risk. Today, less than one percent of America’s rivers are wild and free. We have more work to do to save our last, wild rivers.

Learn more about Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Why protect Wild and Scenic Rivers?

Healthy rivers are essential to the health and well-being of each and every American.

  • Clean water is essential to our health, and rivers provide more than two-thirds of our drinking water supplies.
  • Rivers tell the story of our nation’s history and they run through our culture – our music, literature and art.
  • River-related recreation and tourism contributes more than $97 billion to the U.S. economy per year.
  • Wild rivers are pathways to adventure, allowing us to discover new places, connect with friends and family, and enjoy access to the best fishing, paddling, and hiking anywhere.
  • The wildlife habitat provided by lands along their banks is among the most essential on the planet.

What does a Wild and Scenic designation do?

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protects the free and natural flow of a river and its special features. In particular it:

  • Safeguards clean water
  • Prevents activities that would significantly harm the river’s character and benefits
  • Prohibits new dams or damaging water projects
  • Protects land along the river — a quarter-mile protective buffer is established along Wild and Scenic Rivers flowing through publicly-owned lands.
  • Requires a management plan with input from local landowners and other stakeholders

The Act recognizes that people and their needs change. The goal is to preserve the character of a river, and engage the local community in its management for the long-term.

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System works with landowners around the country. In fact, landowners often want rivers that cross their land to be protected as Wild and Scenic. They realize the many benefits of a protected river, which include:

  • Preserving quality of life
  • Protecting property value
  • Boosting the local economy with recreation and tourism dollars

How can I get involved?

For questions about the campaign and grassroots action, contact David Moryc.

If you are a reporter or storyteller, or have questions about the web site, contact Amy Kober.

If you are a business and want to get involved, contact Anne Paterson.

#MyRiverStory #5000Miles