Partnership W&S Rivers

In 1968, the U.S. Congress passed the “National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act” which made it the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation, and their immediate environments, that possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, should be protected in free-flowing condition for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. As of August 2018, 12,754 miles of 209 rivers have been designated in 40 states and Puerto Rico.

October 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (along with the National Trails System that was also initiated in 1968).

The Partnership Wild and Scenic River model has been used for over 20 years and was developed to meet the needs of rivers characterized by private land ownership and well-established local processes for governance and stewardship of river resources. For Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers, communities protect their own outstanding rivers and river-related resources through a collaborative approach. A locally developed management plan must be in place.  There currently are sixteen Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers, primarily located in the northeast, including three rivers newly designated in 2019.

For a Partnership Wild and Scenic River Study, the suitability determination for designation includes factors such as (1) development of a non-regulatory, locally developed comprehensive management plan to protect watershed resources; (2) evidence of existing local resource protection measures, such as local ordinances, to protect river resources; and (3) public support by non-federal entities that will have a role in implementing a plan for protection.

For More Information

NPS Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers website:

NPS Report (2016), Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers – 20 Years of Success Protecting Nationally Significant River Resources through Locally Based Partnerships: