For Immediate Release
Wild and Scenic Rivers Anniversary a Time to Renew Commitment to River Protection
October 2 marks 40th anniversary of nation's wild rivers system
WASHINGTON - On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers
Act, American Rivers today called on Congress to renew its commitment
to protect the nation's clean water and river heritage by passing bills
to add more than 850 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic
"We have come a long way in 40 years, but we still have a long way
to go. There are 3.5 million miles of rivers in our country, and less
than one percent are protected," said Rebecca Wodder, president of
"From the Taunton River in Massachusetts to the Snake headwaters of
Wyoming, from the clear waters of Arizona's Fossil Creek to the streams
of Oregon's Mount Hood and Wild Rogue, communities around the country
are eager for Congress to act on these new Wild and Scenic
designations," said Wodder.
Forty years ago, on October 2, 1968, President Johnson signed into
the law the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, with the goal of
protecting our country's wild river heritage and all the benefits wild
rivers bring to our communities. Enactment of the law in signified a
fundamental shift in the way we value rivers. For the first time in
our nation's history we embraced conservation of rivers for their
inherent unique qualities.
"Rivers touch our lives in so many ways. They give us drinking water
and are home to fish and wildlife. They support recreation and tourism
economies worth billions. They are sources of identity and community
pride. They flow through our culture, in our music, art and stories. We
have a responsibility to protect our rivers for future generations,"
There are 166 Wild and Scenic rivers in our country. The Missouri
River explored by Lewis and Clark, the Delaware River that cradled the
American Revolution, and the Tuolumne River loved by John Muir are all
protected by this visionary law. The National Wild and Scenic Rivers
System is one of our country's most important natural resource programs
and protecting Wild and Scenic rivers enjoys strong bi-partisan support.
A Wild and Scenic designation is the highest level of protection a
river can get. It blocks dams and other harmful water projects, and
preserves a river's free-flowing nature. The designation also protects
and improves water quality, as well as the river's unique historic,
cultural, scenic, ecological, and recreational values. It provides a
protective buffer along the river while allowing appropriate
development and use. Each river has its own unique management plan that
is developed in concert with local landowners and citizens.
"Our rivers face unprecedented threats from global warming and
harmful development. We also know that healthy, free-flowing rivers
generate major economic benefits, provide clean water, and are the
lifeblood of thriving communities. Wild and Scenic designations protect
rivers from the worst threats and ensure we'll reap the benefits of
healthy rivers for years to come," said Wodder.
The biggest Wild and Scenic package ever passed was an Oregon bill
in 1988, which included 1429.05 miles of rivers. Now Congress is
considering the second largest Wild and Scenic package in history which
would safeguard 852.8 miles of rivers in Oregon, Idaho, Arizona,
Wyoming and Massachusetts.
Wild and Scenic designations can bring significant economic benefits
to local communities. A recent study in Oregon showed that rafting,
fishing and jet boat tours on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River generated
$14 million and 225 jobs in one rural county. In addition to giving a
boost to recreation and tourism, Wild and Scenic designations can raise
property values and improve quality of life.
American Rivers has a long history of protecting Wild and Scenic
Rivers. The organization was founded 35 years ago to protect the
nation's last wild rivers many of them threatened by new dams and other
harmful projects by expanding the National Wild and Scenic Rivers
For more information visit www.americanrivers.org/gowild