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VENTANA WILD RIVERS PROPOSAL

Overview: Federal Wild & Scenic Designation and its Classifications

The National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act was passed by Congress in 1968 specifically to complement our existing national policy of developing rivers for their water and power resources, with a new

federal policy to protect the free flowing conditions, water quality, and outstanding scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, and cultural values. The intent of Congress was to protect certain selected rivers and their immediate environments to fulfill vital national conservation purposes.

Federal protection ensures that no new dams or large diversions will be constructed on designated rivers, which are to be protected in perpetuity for future generations. In addition, the federal public lands through which designated rivers flow are managed to protect the river’s free flowing character and outstanding values.

Federal permits required for water resource projects (defined as any project that touches the water, such as bridges, bank protection, etc) must ensure that such projects do not have a direct and adverse effect on the values of

  • Wild Rivers are vestiges of

primitive America, where access is primarily by trail and is non- motorized.

  • Scenic Rivers have largely

undeveloped shorelines, but may have occasional road or bridge crossings and structures adjacent to but unseen from the shoreline. Access may be motorized or non- motorized.

  • Recreational Rivers may have

parallel roads and adjacent structures and other development visible from the shoreline. Access is primarily motorized.

designated rivers. Water resource projects upstream or downstream of protected rivers may not invade or unreasonably diminish the river’s outstanding values.

Upon designation, a protected river corridor averaging 320 acres per mile (approximately ¼ mile on each side of the river) is established. The river corridor is classified as Wild, Scenic, or Recreational based on the level of existing development at the time of designation. Wild Rivers are vestiges of primitive America, where access is primarily by trail and is non-motorized. Scenic Rivers have largely undeveloped shorelines, but may have occasional road or bridge crossings and structures adjacent to but unseen from the shoreline. Access may be motorized or non-motorized. Recreational Rivers may have parallel roads and adjacent structures and other development visible from the shoreline. Access is primarily motorized.

A comprehensive river management plan is developed and adopted by the appropriate federal management agency within three years after designation by Congress. The final river corridor boundaries, classifications, specific management standards to ensure protection of outstanding river values, and determination of the river’s recreational use carrying capacity are all key components of

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