Wild and Scenic Rivers Project

Our part in this project with start this weekend with us traveling to the North Cascades to start collecting data on the Suiattle River.

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.

North Cascades
A spectacular twin waterfall along the Boulder River. Just off Hwy 530 in the North Cascade region of Washington.

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. 

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Enjoying a bit of warmth on a cold clear winter's evening on the Olympic Coast. We don't get many days like this in the winter. ...

Setting up camp at Toleak Beach on the Washington coast. We took advantage of the clear but cold winter weather and hiked in the day before our #COASST bird survey. ...

Snug Harbor Cannery on the southern half of Chisik Island. I spent a few years guiding out of the Alaskan treasure. ...

Just published our latest adventure - Hit and Run at Bear Creek - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

At the mouth of the Columbia River stands the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Still active, she’s been guiding mariners since 1856. ...

A multitude of grey defines Lake Crescent during our latest #COASST survey. ...

The old Navy torpedo warehouse located on the grounds of Washington’s Manchester State Park. ...

While out dodging the rain showers, came across this beautiful Amanita muscaria near camp. The cap was a big as a dinner plate! ...

During our recent science trip to Suiattle River for the Wild and Scenic River Project, we were treated to these wonderful views. Here we're enjoying the winter's day with Mt. Baker in the background. ...

Our collection site for the Wild and Scenic River project. We grabbed river samples as well as tested ph, dissolved O2 and other data points. Turned out to be a great day in the field. ...

Heading out to start the Winter series of collection for the Wild and Scenic River project for Adventure Scientist. ...

These Nootka Rose caught my eye in camp this morning. Sitting here enjoying the fire listening to the geese overhead as they fly south. ...

Bear Canyon just outside Morton Washington is a little pocket of pristine wilderness. ...

Theresa doing her best to imitate the North Head Lighthouse. ...

A bridge span over the Green River. I love the contrast between the texture of the bridge and the fall colors of the background. ...

Here's a sunset from our recent #COASST bird survey at First Beach. The next day it poured rain. I measured over two inches just that afternoon. ...

Adventure Scientist

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.

In the past 50 years, we have learned—all too slowly, I think—to prize and protect God's precious gifts. Because we have, our own children and grandchildren will come to know and come to love the great forests and the wild rivers that we have protected and left to them . . . An unspoiled river is a very rare thing in this Nation today. Their flow and vitality have been harnessed by dams and too often they have been turned into open sewers by communities and by industries. It makes us all very fearful that all rivers will go this way unless somebody acts now to try to balance our river development.

President Lyndon Johnson

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.

Suiattle River

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

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