The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

David Moryc, American Rivers, 503-307-1137 (cell)
Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 ext. 3100

President Obama Signs Historic Wild and Scenic River Bill Into Law

American Rivers applauds permanent protection for 86 rivers, totaling 1,100 miles, in seven states


American Rivers applauded President Barack Obama today for signing into the law the second largest Wild and Scenic Rivers package in history. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 designates 86 new Wild and Scenic Rivers, totaling over 1,100 miles in Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, California, and Massachusetts. The legislation includes important protections for 350,000 acres of land along the rivers and also contains new Wilderness designations for over two million acres of public land.

Rebecca Wodder, President of American Rivers, the nation's leading river conservation organization, attended the signing ceremony at the White House.

"The signing of this bill is an expression of the home grown support for one of the largest environmental protection measures in decades," said Wodder. "From ranchers, rafters and hunters in the desert country of Idaho to anglers in Oregon to bird watchers in Massachusetts, the communities across country that clamored for these protections are celebrating President Obama's signing today."

"America's history and heritage are knit together by our rivers. These Wild and Scenic Rivers are the lifeblood of our communities," added Wodder. "By protecting our rivers, President Obama is ensuring our grandchildren will enjoy a legacy of clean water, outdoor recreation and all of the economic and quality of life benefits that come with healthy rivers and wild places."

A Wild and Scenic River designation protects riverside land along both sides of a river corridor, blocks dams and other harmful water projects, and preserves a river's free-flowing nature. It helps protect and improve clean water, as well as the river's unique historic, cultural, scenic, ecological, and recreational values.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was enacted in 1968. Three years ago, American Rivers set the goal of designating 40 new Wild and Scenic Rivers by the 40th anniversary of the law. With the signing of the bill today, we more than double our goal by designating 86 new Wild and Scenic Rivers. Today's law expands the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System by more than 50 percent, bringing the total number of Wild and Scenic Rivers to 252.

"From the Snake River headwaters in Wyoming to the desert Southwest's Fossil Creek, to the trout streams of the Rockies, and the popular fishing and paddling streams of the Pacific Northwest, local people--hikers, boaters, hunters and anglers--pushed for these historic protections," said Wodder.

The details of the new Wild and Scenic designations can be found below:

Area: Fossil Creek
Designated River Miles: 16.8
Rivers: Portions of Fossil Creek
Sponsored by: Sen. John McCain

Area: Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wilderness
Designated River Miles: 66.9
Rivers: Portions of Amargosa River, Owens River Headwaters, and Cottenwood Creek.
Sponsored by: Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Howard McKeon

Area: California Desert and Mountain Heritage
Designated River Miles: 31
Rivers: Portions of North Fork San Jacinto, Fuller Mill Creek, Palm Canyon Creek, and Bautista Creek.
Sponsored by: Rep. Mary Bono-Mack and Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Area: Owyhee Public Land Management
Designated River Miles: 316.3
Rivers: Portions of Battle Creek, Big Jacks Creek, Bruneau River, West Fork Bruneau, Cottonwood Creek, Deep Creek, Dickshooter Creek, Duncan Creek, Jarbidge River, Little Jacks Creek, North Fork Owyhee River, Owyhee River, Red Canyon, Sheep Creek, South Fork Owyhee, and Wickahoney Creek.
Sponsored by: Sen. Mike Crapo

Area: Taunton River
Designated River Miles: 40
Rivers: Portions of the Taunton River.
Sponsored by: Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Ted Kennedy

Area: Mt. Hood Wilderness
Designated River Miles: 81
Rivers: Portions of South Fork Clackamas, Eagle Creek, Middle Fork Hood River, South Fork Roaring River, Zig Zag River, Fifteenmile Creek, East Fork Hood River, Collawash, and Fish Creek.
Sponsored by: Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Greg Walden

Area: Copper Salmon Wilderness
Designated River Miles: 11.2
Rivers: Portions of the North Fork Elk and South Fork Elk.
Sponsored by: Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Ron Wyden

Area: Zion National Park Wild and Scenic Rivers
Designated River Miles: 165
Rivers: Portions of Taylor Creek, North Fork of Taylor Creek, Middle Fork Taylor Creek, South Fork of Taylor Creek, Timber creek and tributaries, Laverkin Creek, Willis Creek, Beartrap Canyon, Hop Valley, Current Creek, Cane Creek, Smith Creek, North Creek, Wildcat Canyon, Little Creek, Russell Gulch, Grapevine Wash, Pinespring Wash, Wolf Springs Wash, Kolok Creek, Oak Creek, Goose Creek, Deep Creek, North Fork of Virgin River, Imlay Canyon, Orderville Canyon, Mystery Canyon, Echo Canyon, Behunin Canyon, Heaps Canyon, Burch Creek, Clear Creek, Pine Creek, East Fork of Virgin River, and Shunes Creek.
Sponsored by: Sen. Robert Bennett

Area: Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study
Rivers: Portions of the Missisqoui and Trout rivers will be studied for Wild and Scenic eligibility.
Sponsored by: Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Patrick Leahy

Area: Snake River Headwaters
Designated River Miles: 387.5
Rivers: Portions of Bailey Creek, Blackrock Creek, Buffalo Fork of Snake River, Crystal Creek, Granite Creek, Gros Ventre River, Hoback River, Lewis, Pacific Creek, Shoal Creek, Snake River, Willow Creek, and Wolf Creek.
Sponsored by: Sen. John Barrasso

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. 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.