In 1968, the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The purpose of Wild & Scenic Rivers is to PERMANENTLY protect rivers for the sake of future generations.
Legislation has been introduced in California to roll back Wild & Scenic protections for the Merced River. HR 2578 proposes to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to drown part of California’s Merced Wild and Scenic River to allow for the expansion of Lake McClure behind the New Exchequer Dam. If passed, this will be the first time that a Wild and Scenic designation has been eroded to make room for development.
Basically, some people want to flood a section of the Merced River, even though it is protected under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. Although this is the first time that the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act has been threatened, it surely will not be be the last. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN! Now would be a good time to get in touch with your Representative and let him or her know that Wild & Scenic Rivers are important to you! The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is one of the strongest tools that we have to protect our free-flowing rivers for future generations. Let your representatives know that you want PERMANENT protection for Wild & Scenic Rivers!
Find your Representative in the upper righthand corner at www.house.gov and contact him or her!
Several other bills currently threaten Wild and Scenic Rivers throughout the country, including the St. Croix in Minnesota and Wisconsin (HR 850/S1134) and Oregon’s Crooked River (HR 2060). These bills will be moving out of committee this fall. ACT NOW before this gets out of hand!
Wild river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.
Scenic river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
Recreational river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.
As of July 2011, the National System protects 12,598 miles of 203 rivers in 38 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; this is a little more 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%, of American rivers.