RMS hosts Nolichucky River Gorge trip with Wild and Scenic River advocates, river managers

 Photo by Jack Henderson.

The Nolichucky River Gorge may be one step closer to earning Wild and Scenic River (WSR) designation following an August river trip with RMS members and Nolichucky WSR advocates. Attendees learned more about what a Wild & Scenic Nolichucky Gorge would look like and how it could benefit local communities and affect management decisions. They also discussed updates on the legislative status and where to go from here.

Jack Henderson, former River Management Society (RMS) National River Project coordinator, organized the trip to bring together Nolichuchucky WSR advocates and river managers for an update on the history and status of WSR designation of the Nolichucky River Gorge. This is the 7.2-mile section from Poplar, N.C. to USA Raft Adventure Resort in Erwin, Tenn. and does not include other sections of the river.

Photo by Jack Henderson.

Attendees included representatives from RMS, Pisgah National Forest, Cherokee National Forest, American Rivers, MountainTrue, French Broad Riverkeeper, American Whitewater, Wild South, Blue Ridge Resource Conservation & Development, Nantahala Outdoor Center and USA Raft Adventure Resort.

WSR designation was first recommended by the National Park Service in 1980, and again by the United States Forest Service (USFS) in 1994. USFS manages this section and would be responsible for its comprehensive river management plan if Congress approves designation. These recommendations have also been supported by more than 23,000 individual endorsements and more than 70 business endorsements.

WSR designation would protect a 0.5-mile wide corridor along the Nolichucky from Poplar, N.C. to USA Raft Adventure Resort in Erwin, Tennessee. This free-flowing section of the Nolichucky is rare amongst a region of heavily-impounded rivers. Its designation would prohibit dams and forever protect its scenic and recreational values, ensuring that future generations are able to enjoy the experiences and economic benefits that the Nolichucky River Gorge provides.

From the National Park Service:
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 (Public Law 90-542;16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.

RMS is uniquely positioned to provide WSR managers with information about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, including training opportunities. RMS staff have years of high-quality work experience with each of the four federal WSR-administering agencies and the Interagency WSRs Coordinating Council. Through its recently established River Training Center (RTC), RMS offers both online and in-person training developed and presented by subject matter experts with decades of experience in WSR study and management. Learn more about these RMS resources on the RMS WSR web page.

RMS members benefit from inclusion in a community of professionals who study, manage and protect rivers. Its diverse membership includes federal, state and local agency staff, educators, scientists, researchers, outfitters, consultants, advocates, non-profit organizations and individuals. RMS advances the profession of river management by providing a unique variety of forums for sharing information about the appropriate use and management of river resources, including virtual and in-person trainings, workshops, conferences, journal articles, listserves, etc. Enjoy these benefits and advance your professional career by becoming a member today!

Learn more about WSR designation by visiting the National Park Service Wild and Scenic Rivers Program website. Learn more about Nolichucky WSR designation from