The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act Turns 40
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is turning 40 this year. Here at ECHO, we celebrate the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because it provides unparalleled protection for both the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and the Rogue River. In fact, the Middle Fork and the Rogue were two of the original eight "charter"rivers designated by Congress when they signed the act on October 2, 1968. The Act declares:
"It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Congress declares that the established national policy of dams and other construction at appropriate sections of the rivers of the United States needs to be complemented by a policy that would preserve other selected rivers or sections thereof in their free-flowing condition to protect the water quality of such rivers and to fulfill other vital national conservation purposes."
The original eight Wild and Scenic Rivers are Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Clearwater in Idaho, the Wolf in Wisconsin, the Eleven Point in Missouri, the Middle Fork of the Feather in California, the Rio Grande in New Mexico, the Rogue in Oregon, and the St Croix in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Today there are more than 165 rivers and over 11,000 river miles protected by the Act.
In order to be designated as a Wild and Scenic River, a section of the river needs to be "free flowing" and demonstrate "outstandingly remarkable values" such as scenery, geology, fish and wildlife, historic, or other similar value. Rivers can either be designated by an Act of Congress or by the Secretary of the Interior.
The main purpose of the Act is to protect the free flowing character of America's rivers by protecting them from dams and water diversions that currently affect most rivers in our country. In addition, every river in the system is managed to protect the "outstandingly remarkable values" for which it was designated by a federal agency such as the Forest Service or BLM. The Act states:
"Each component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System shall be administered in such manner as to protect and enhance the values which caused it to be included without . . . limiting other uses that do not substantially interfere with public use and enjoyment of these values."
Basically the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provides unwavering protection for the rivers we run. Thank you Senator Frank Church!