Wild & Scenic Rivers

News & Story Ideas

Why Protect Wild Rivers?

Beginning in 1968, the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System has grown to now protect 12,754 miles of 209 free-flowing rivers in 40 states. Prior to protection, these rivers were at risk of being dammed or destroyed by pollution. Lisa explains the importance of free-flowing rivers and why Americans treasure them.

From Wild to Urban

Our nation’s Wild and Scenic Rivers include a wide variety of streams, from rivers flowing through primitive, unspoiled landscapes with few people, to others near urban areas that are heavily visited. Lisa discusses the surprising variety of protected waters and how the Act allows for protecting all kinds of rivers.

Vestiges of the Primeval

From the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho to the Chattooga in Georgia and South Carolina, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protects free-flowing rivers treasured for whitewater recreation, fishing, wildlife habitat and water quality. Lisa describes some of the lesser-known gems in the system, the majestic landscapes they traverse and the benefits we derive from them.

The Flow of Money

The economic benefits of river protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act have been documented with studies on the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River, Rogue Wild and Scenic River, and West Branch Farmington Wild and Scenic River. For instance, visitors in 2001 spent an estimated $1.8 million in the six-county area around the Chattooga with a total estimated economic impact of $2.6 million in 2002. More generally, the Outdoor Industry Association reports that Americans spend $140 billion each year on watersports, and the watersports industry supports more than 1.2 million jobs. Lisa discusses the jobs and economic benefits wild rivers provide across America.

Rivers at Risk

Each year the river advocacy group American Rivers unveils a list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® (the Big Sunflower River topped the list in 2018). Pollution, energy development and new threats to public lands, such as reductions to national monuments, all put rivers at risk (the Rio Grande del Norte, Giant Sequoia and Upper Missouri River Breaks national monuments protect designated Wild and Scenic River watersheds while other monuments include eligible rivers). American Rivers, American Whitewater and other partners are seeking protection, through Wild and Scenic River designations and other means, for special waterways across America through the 5000 Miles of Wild campaign. Advocates discuss the most imminent threats to America’s rivers and prospects for preservation when environmental protections are under attack.

Unsung Values of Untamed Rivers

Wild and Scenic Rivers preserve stream flows for fish and wildlife, and public recreation and tourism, and protect floodplains that reduce the severity of flooding compared with developed stream banks. Lisa shares some of the surprising benefits rivers provide when they are allowed to flow freely.

A Remnant Worth Protecting

The 12,754 miles of streams protected under the Wild and Scenic River Act comprises less than one-quarter of one percent of the nation's rivers. By comparison, more than 75,000 large dams across the country have modified at least 600,000 miles, or about 17 percent, of America's rivers. Advocates from American Rivers and American Whitewater discuss rivers that have not yet been protected that deserve protection, and the future of the Act.

Damming Threatened Treasures

The 20th century was marked by widespread destruction of wild rivers as federal agencies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bureau of Reclamation dammed up rivers for hydroelectric power, flood control and water supplies for cities and agriculture. Lisa and advocates from American Rivers and American Whitewater discuss the hidden costs when wild rivers are drowned beneath dams and how recent success stories have unbridled dammed rivers.

Rivers Social Media

Rivers federal agency and non-profit partners will be including anniversary focused social media content on their various channels.

Recommended Hashtags

#makeyoursplash (anniversary)
#rivers50 (anniversary)
#5000milesofwild (American Rivers' 5000 Miles of Wild Campaign)
#wildandscenic (general content)

Social Media Information Sources

River and water facts

Rivers storymap

Infographics on the Wild and Scenic River System; Water Quality; Fish, Wildlife, Ecology and Botany; Recreation and Economics; Geology and Hydrology; History, Culture and Paleontology; and Health and Safety. (also available in Spanish)

River quotations

Sample Tweets

209 wild rivers in 40 states and Puerto Rico. 12,754 miles protected. #makeyoursplash on a river near you. https://www.rivers.gov/map.php

47 million people fish. 74% of #wildandscenic rivers protect fish. #makeyoursplash by fishing on a river near you. https://goo.gl/XSFeJ9

Less than 1/4 of 1% of rivers are #wildandscenic. Explore your rivers. #makeyoursplash https://www.rivers.gov/map.php

600,000 miles of rivers are harnessed by dams. #wildandscenic rivers are the only rivers protected as wild and free. #makeyoursplash

Every river has a story. Every great story has a river. #makeyoursplash by sharing #myriverstory https://www.5000miles.org/share-your-story/

“The river called.”--John Craighead, 1965. Which river calls you? #myriverstory https://www.5000miles.org/share-your-story/

Rivers and trails connect us to our #publiclands. #findyourway https://www.doi.gov/video/findyourway

River time is family time. #makeyoursplash on a river near you. https://www.doi.gov/video/makeyoursplash
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