Leading Active Campaigns

Washington

Legislation: Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (attached to NDAA)

Why Protect: Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula includes free-flowing rivers that babble through ancient forests. Such stunning scenery not only provides world-class recreational opportunities for whitewater boaters and hikers, it protects critical salmon and steelhead habitat and safeguards clean drinking water sources. With a history of more than ten years of grassroots support, this bill would designate 19 new Wild and Scenic Rivers, plus their tributaries, and more than 125,000 acres of wilderness.

Update: This legislation was introduced as H.R. 999 on February 11, 2021 and S. 455 on February 25. Eight public lands bills, including this one, became part of H.R. 803, which the House approved on February 26. On September 23 the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803) was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act and was passed by the House. The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on S. 455 on May 3, 2022.

Contact: 

Thomas O’Keefe, okeefe@americanwhitewater.org, with American Whitewater

Learn More: Wild Olympics website

Oregon 

Legislation: Rivers Democracy Act of 2021 (S. 192)

Why Protect: This bill designates nearly 4,700 miles of rivers in all corners of Oregon to expand recreation access, protect drinking water, reduce wildfire threats, and sustain endangered fish and wildlife species. The bill also requires federal land managers to assess wildfire risks in Wild and Scenic River corridors and encourages them to develop river management plans in collaboration with Native American tribes, ensuring tribes have a voice in how rivers are managed.

Update: This bill was introduced by Senator Wyden on February 2, 2021. The Senate Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on S. 192 on June 23, 2021. Markup was scheduled for July 21, 2022.

Contact: 

David Moryc, dmoryc@americanrivers.org, at American Rivers
Tom O’Keefe, okeefe@americanwhitewater.org, at American Whitewater
Brett Swift, bswift@pewtrusts.org, and the Pew Charitable Trusts

Kayakers on a river

Legislation: Smith River National Recreation Area Expansion Act (S. 1538)

Why Protect: This bill expands the Smith River National Recreation Area by 58,000 acres, which would protect the diverse ecosystems of the rivers, streams, and adjacent lands of the North Fork Smith River watershed, and help boost the local fishing and recreation industries that many Oregon families rely on.

Update: This bill was introduced by Senators Wyden and Merkley on May 10, 2021. The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on S. 1538 on May 3, 2022. Markup was scheduled for July 21, 2022.

Contact: Grant Werschkull, grant@smithriveralliance.org, at the Smith River Alliance

California

Legislation: Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act (attached to NDAA)

Why Protect: From fog-shrouded redwood forests to crystalline turquoise pools, Northern California is home to some of the most stunning landscapes. This bill protects local wild lands, expands recreational opportunities, and restores impacted watersheds by designating 379 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers, establishing eight new wilderness areas and expanding nine existing ones.

Update: This legislation was introduced as H.R. 878 on February 5, 2021. Eight public lands bills, including this one, were consolidates as part of H.R. 803, which the House approved on February 26, 2021. On September 23, 2021 the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803) was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act and was passed by the House. In the Senate, the three California river bills were packaged as S. 1459 (PUBLIC Act) and had a hearing on October 19, 2021.

Contact: 

Steve Evans, sevans@calwild.org, with California Wilderness Coalition

Legislation: Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (attached to NDAA)

Why Protect: The product of years of discussion and negotiation between business leaders, conservationists, elected officials, ranchers, mountain bikers and other stakeholders, this bill will ensure clean water for thriving communities, protect critical wildlife habitat and stimulate a vibrant local economy. It safeguards 159 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, designates nearly 250,000 acres of wilderness and creates two new scenic areas in California’s Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Update: This legislation was introduced as H.R. 973 on February 11, 2021. Eight public lands bills, including this one, were consolidates as part of H.R. 803, which the House approved on February 26, 2021. On September 23, 2021 the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803) was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act and was passed by the House. In the Senate, the three California river bills were packaged as S. 1459 (PUBLIC Act) and had a hearing on October 19, 2021.

Contact: 

Steve Evans, sevans@calwild.org, with California Wilderness Coalition

Ron Stork, rstork@friendsoftheriver.org, with Friends of the River

Legislation: San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 803)

Why Protect: Despite nearby gorgeous rivers, forests and mountains just to the north, Los Angeles residents are some of the most park-poor in the country. This bill spurs outdoor recreation by connecting park-poor areas, especially communities of color, to open space. It establishes a National Recreation Area along the San Gabriel River, protects 45.5 miles of rivers in Southern California, designates more than 30,000 acres of wilderness and expands the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

Update: This legislation was introduced as H.R. 693 on February 2, 2021. Eight public lands bills, including this one, were consolidates as part of H.R. 803, which the House approved on February 26, 2021. On September 23, 2021 the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803) was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act and was passed by the House. In the Senate, the three California river bills were packaged as S. 1459 (PUBLIC Act) and had a hearing on October 19, 2021.

Contact: 

Steve Evans, sevans@calwild.org, with California Wilderness Coalition

Montana

Legislation: Montana Headwaters Legacy Act (S. 2254)

Why Protect: The Montana Headwaters Legacy Act is an insurance policy on some of the most prized and iconic waterways that will guarantee that these streams flow freely and securely within their banks for generations to come. These wild waterways provide clean drinking water to cities and towns, irrigation for crops that feed residents and visitors alike, and provide limitless opportunities in the state’s flourishing $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy. This bill designates 336 miles on 17 streams in the Greater Yellowstone and Missouri headwaters.

Update: This legislation was introduced by Senator Tester as S. 2254 on June 24, 2021. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Public Lands, Forests, & Mining Subcommittee held a hearing on June 7, 2022.

Contact: 

Scott Bosse, sbosse@americanrivers.org, with American Rivers
Charles Drimal, cdrimal@greateryellowstone.org, with Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Learn More: Montanans for Healthy Rivers website

Proposal: Crown of the Continent

Why Protect: The rivers and streams of the Crown of the Continent region of Montana flow from or near the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park and support thriving fish and wildlife communities and a bustling recreation economy. The proposal would designate 325 miles on 23 streams in the Flathead and Clark Fork river headwaters.

Update: Originally proposed for designation as a package along with the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, these two campaigns were separated. Legislation has not yet been drafted and community support is still being garnered.

Contact:

Scott Bosse, sbosse@americanrivers.org, with American Rivers

Learn More: Montanans for Healthy Rivers website

New Mexico

greater gila river

Legislation: M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act (S. 3129)

Why Protect: The Gila River is the largest remaining, free-flowing river system in Southwestern U.S. It emanates from our nation’s first Wilderness Area, championed by Aldo Leopold in 1924. It provides critical habitat for threatened Gila trout, is a source of clean water for agriculture and wildlife, and supports New Mexico’s $2.3B outdoor recreation economy. This bill designates roughly 450 miles on 31 river segments and protects 144,000 acres of riverside lands.

Update: Senator Udall first introduced S. 3670 during the 116th Congress. It was reintroduced in the 117th Congress by Senators Heinrich and Lujan as S. 3129 on November 2, 2021. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Public Lands, Forests, & Mining Subcommittee held a hearing on June 7, 2022. Markup was scheduled for July 21, 2022.

Contact: Mike Fiebig, mfiebig@americanrivers.org, with American Rivers

North Carolina

Proposal: Nolichucky River

Why Protect: One of the last free-flowing southern rivers, the Nolichucky Gorge flows between Poplar, NC and Erwin, TN. As a regionally-known fishing and whitewater recreation destination, protecting the river safeguards wildlife habitat and vital businesses in an economically-depressed area. This proposal would designate 7 miles of the Nolichucky Gorge flowing through Forest Service lands.

Update: Legislation has not yet been drafted and community support is still being garnered.

Contact: 

Kevin Colburn, kevin@americanwhitewater.org, with American Whitewater
Jack Henderson, hendersonjc3@gmail.com, volunteer with American Whitewater

Learn More: Nolichucky Wild and Scenic website

Alabama

River flowing through trees in autumn

Proposal: Little River

Why Protect: Little River flows nearly its entire length on top of Lookout Mountain in northeastern Alabama, sculpting a system of canyons that exceed 600 feet in depth and creating one of the deepest river gorges in the eastern US. The shallow, rocky riverbed is home to rare and endemic plant species such as Kral’s water-plantain and green pitcher plants. World-class whitewater paddling and canyon rim and waterfall sight-seeing are a few of the recreational pursuits available on Little River.

Update: Legislation to protect the Little River as a Partnership Wild and Scenic River has not yet been introduced.

Contact: Keep Little River Wild film and website

Jack West, jwest@alabamarivers.org, with Alabama Rivers Alliance and Angie Shugart, angie@littleriverwaterkeeper.org, with Little River Waterkeeper

Florida

Legislation: Kissimmee River Wild and Scenic River Act (H.R 4404)

Why Protect: This bill would protect the source of the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee and the heart of water supplies for central Florida. After decades of restoration and spending nearly $1 billion, over 63,000 acres of wetlands has been re-established within the watershed for fish, wildlife, and flora. This bill would protect that investment by authorizing a study to assess inclusion of the river in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Update: Representative Soto introduced H.R. 4404 on July 9, 2021. The Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held a hearing on this bill and two others on November 9, 2021. The House passed the bill in July 21, 2022 with a vote of 377 to 45.

Learn More: Representative Soto’s office website

River with overhanging vegetationLegislation: Little Manatee Wild and Scenic River Act (H.R 4358)

Why Protect: This bill would protect 51 miles of one of the most pristine blackwater rivers in the state of Florida. The upper reaches of the river offer canoeing, kayaking, boating and fishing for bass or panfish while the lower reaches offer opportunities for saltwater fishing.

Update: Representative Buchanan introduced H.R. 4358 on July 6, 2021. The Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held a hearing on this bill and two others on November 9, 2021.

Learn More: Representative Buchanan’s office website

Maine

Legislation: York River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2019 (H.R. 803, amendment 117-2)

Why Protect: The York River watershed sustains a rich tapestry of natural areas, fish and wildlife habitat, drinking water supplies, and numerous archaeological sites. The rivers in the watershed provide quality habitat for one of the largest smelt spawning migrations in southern Maine and support an active commercial fishing industry important to the area’s economy, character, and history. This bill is supported by the York River Study Committee, a diverse group of local stakeholders that have been engaged in studying the river for designation for over three years.

Update: This bill was included as amendment 117-2 to the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, which passed the House on February 26, 2021. It has also been introduced separately in both the House and Senate as H.R. 1469 and S. 491. The Senate Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on S. 491 on June 23, 2021. The Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held a hearing on H.R. 1469 and two others on November 9, 2021.

Contact: Jennifer Hunter, Jh.yorkriver@gmail.com, York River Study Committee

Learn More: York River Study Committee website

Taking Action

Annually during Wild and Scenic Rivers Hill Week and routinely throughout the year, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition expresses support for the advancement of river campaigns. In March 2022, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition met with more than 45 Congressional offices to promote the 12 river protection bills currently in Congress. Below are the collaborative letters delivered to Congress by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition at key points during the movement of these bills through the legislative process this session: