River lovers rejoice! With the stroke of a pen, more than 621 miles of new Wild and Scenic River designation are greeting paddlers as part of the larger public lands bill, the 662-page Natural Resources Management Act.
With strong bipartisan support, this legislation — the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act — passed the House by a vote of 363-62 on February 26 and the Senate by a vote of 92-8 on February 12. President Trump’s signature ensured the bill’s passage.
“I’m thrilled the Natural Resources Management Act, that includes over 600 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers, passed the House and Senate and is now waiting a presidential signature,” says Mark Singleton, executive director of American Whitewater, which played a pivotal role in a number of the pieces that came together to protect rivers in the package.“In my family, some of our most cherished memories are times we’ve been able to spend together floating Wild and Scenic Rivers. This legislation makes building those memories more accessible to families across the country.”
Included in the Bill:
- Permanent Reauthorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF provides funds and matching grants to federal, state, and local governments to acquire lands and waters for recreation and habitat. For more than 50 years, LWCF has supported recreation and conservation in nearly every county in the country.
- Emery County Public Land Management Act. Protects 972,335 acres of public land in Emery Countym, Utah, covering most of the iconic San Rafael Swell and protecting 63 miles of the Green River as Wild and Scenic.
- Wild and Scenic designation for 110 miles of rivers in the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed (RI/CT)
- Wild and Scenic designation for 52.8 miles of the Nashua River and tributaries (NH/MA)
- Wild and Scenic designation for 77.2 miles of rivers as part of the California Desert Protection Act (CA)
- Methow Headwaters Protection Act. Protects 340,079 acres within the Methow Valley’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest from any mining activity.
- Wild and Scenic Designation for the 62 miles of the Lower Farmington and Salmon Brook in Connecticut would protect the popular Tariffville Gorge section of the Farmington River
- Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act. Protects 30,000 acres of National Forest Lands adjacent to the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness and Yellowstone National park from industrial scale gold mining. The passage of this bill makes permanent the 20-year mining prohibition, otherwise known as a mineral withdrawal.
- Oregon Wildlands Act. Protects 30,000 acres of the Devil’s Staircase area as Wilderness, designates 252 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Rogue and Molalla River watersheds, and protects the Chetco River from mining activity.
- Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Protection Act. Protects 99,653 acres in Oregon’s North Umpqua River watershed as a sanctuary for some of the best wild steelhead spawning areas in the Pacific Northwest. The area provides more than 50 miles of high-quality river and stream habitat for summer and winter steelhead, chinook and coho salmon, rainbow trout, and other native species.
- Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act. Protects 241,067 acres of by creating eight new Wilderness areas within the Organ Mountains-.
* The package also permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and protects nearly 2.5 million acres of public land, many of which are landscapes containing whitewater rivers.