Wild and Scenic Rivers
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, enacted by the U.S. Congress 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 established the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System to protect and enhance rivers found to be regionally and nationally significant. Rivers may be designated by Congress or if certain requirements are met, the Secretary of the Interior. Each designated river is administered by either a federal, state, or tribal agency, or as a partnership between any number of these government entities and local NGOs. Designated segments need not include the entire river and may include headwaters and tributaries. For federally administered rivers, the designated boundaries generally average one-quarter mile on either bank in the lower 48 states and one-half mile on rivers outside national parks in Alaska in order to protect river-related values.
These rivers, or sections of rivers and tributaries, are preserved in their free-flowing condition and are not dammed or otherwise impeded. National Wild and Scenic designation essentially veto the licensing of new hydropower projects on or directly affecting the river. The designation also provides very strong protection against bank and channel alterations that adversely affect river values, protects riverfront public lands from oil, gas, and mineral development, and creates a federal reserved water right to protect flow-dependent values.
Wild and scenic rivers
wild and scenic rivers project a huge success
As a team, we more than tripled the amount of data to date. We’ve received 573 completed surveys from 91 rivers this year, compared to 183 surveys from 41 rivers in 2020.
We’re proud to have been a part of this effort! We’re working on articles and videos so stay tuned.
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System contributes 10% of drinking water throughout the United States. In addition, these rivers are essential for their cultural, recreational, and natural value. However, water quality on the vast majority of these rivers has not been adequately surveyed.
Framed by the five-year window between the 50th anniversary of the WSR Act and the federal Clean Water Act, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service have partnered with Adventure Scientists to survey water quality on protected rivers across the country, providing needed data at an unprecedented scale.
These data will empower managers of these rivers to preserve water resources that support wildlife, recreation, fishing, and human communities.
We need rafters, canoers, kayakers, hikers, and others to help us collect data on Wild and Scenic Rivers across the country.
There are four types of data to collect for this project. Depending on your location and equipment availability, you may be required to collect some or all data types:
- Field probes with in-stream sensors to measure water quality data such as pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, dissolved solids, salinity, and conductivity.
- Habitat assessments measure parameters to assess river health (e.g. canopy cover, land use type, vegetation type).
- Water samples (grab samples) will be analyzed for nutrients, trace metals, and salinity.
- Invasive species assessments identify the location and extent of invasive species establishment (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington only).
All volunteers are required to complete online training and a comprehensive quiz before getting out in the field. We will offer a variety of educational webinars and readings to supplement your training.
Field probes and project equipment will be shipped to you before your start date, or as they become available.
Our part in this project with start this weekend with us traveling to the North Cascades to start collecting data on the Suiattle River. Last year we did a bit of exploring near this area and we’ll be returning to our previous base camp to stage out of.
Each team must plan their method of accessing the backcountry to retrieve the information, and I anticipate that this initial trip will be more about scouting. Once we’ve found safe access to the collection point, we’ll be returning at least twice more during the summer.
I’m hoping to post frequent short video clips to our Twitter feed to help with recruitment for the project. If you haven’t already, I invited you to follow along.
If you think you might be interested in volunteering you can find more information here.