By the 1950s, decades of damming, development and diversion had taken their toll on America’s rivers. America became more conservation-minded, and in 1968, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act created a system of protected rivers intended to contrast and balance prior development.
Fast forward to 2018. Although the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System celebrated the more than 13,000 miles of rivers that have been protected, it was a glaring reminder of the work that remains. Even today, less than ½ of 1% of the nation’s rivers are protected in their free-flowing state. By comparison, more than 75,000 large dams across the country have modified at least 600,000 miles, or nearly 20%, of America’s rivers.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition formed in 2018 in response to the need for coordinated and collaborative advocacy around Wild and Scenic River protection.