Partnership W&S Rivers

York River is one of 18 Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers. PWSRs are a subset of the nationally-designated Wild and Scenic rivers that do not flow through federal parks or other federally owned lands. For each PWSR, a local committee or council oversees implementation of a river management plan, leads community engagement, and coordinates river stewardship activities in cooperation with the National Park Service, the federal agency partner for all PWSRs. The ‘Partnership’ Wild and Scenic River model has been used for nearly 30 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.

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A Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation maintains existing local control. Private property rights are not affected. A PWSR designation does not put land under federal control, does not require public access to private land, does not change any existing land uses, does not force any changes in local land-use decision-making processes or objectives, does not create new federal permits or regulations, does not prevent access to or use of the river or watershed lands, and does not affect hunting and fishing laws.

The PWSR designation does help facilitate local-state-federal coordination, does provide annual funding through the National Park Service PWSRs Program and access to other funding opportunities, does create a local committee to coordinate and engage community members in river protection, does enable development of a river management plan, and does create new opportunities to implement locally-led river protection strategies. No new dams can be constructed on designated rivers, and the National Park Service will review and evaluate in-river projects that involve federal funds or permits to ensure that they do not degrade the river resources that were the basis for designation.