For Immediate Release
Wild and Scenic Rivers Legislation to Be Postponed
This important legislation will be reviewed next year
WASHINGTON - On Monday, November 17, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed
that the lack of time and pressures to complete an economic stimulus
package will prevent Congress from introducing a bi-partisan bill that
included important protections for rivers including new Wild and Scenic
River and Wilderness designations.
A silver lining in this disappointing news is that there is strong
interest from Congressional leadership in passing the bill early next
year, in the 111th Congress, when time is not such a significant factor
as it will be during this lame duck session.
"While the clock ran out on Congress this year, we will have a whole
new ball game in just a couple of months," said Rebecca Wodder,
president of American Rivers. "The strong bi-partisan support for
these watershed protections will spill over into next session and we
are confident we will see swift Congressional action on this bill."
American Rivers called on Congress last month to renew its
commitment to protect the nation's clean water and river heritage by
passing this bill. This package would have been the second largest
Wild and Scenic package in history, safeguarding 852.8 miles of rivers
in Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, and Massachusetts. The biggest Wild
and Scenic package ever passed was an Oregon bill in 1988, which
included 1,429.05 miles of rivers.
It is important to pass this legislation next year because 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.
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Wild and Scenic designations can also 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.
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.
"Our rivers face unprecedented threats from global warming and
harmful development," said Wodder. "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."
For more information visit www.americanrivers.org/gowild
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American Rivers is the leading national organization standing up for healthy rivers so communities can thrive. American Rivers protects and restores America's rivers for the benefit of people, wildlife and nature. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions. Visit www.AmericanRivers.org