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Welcome to the Partnership Wild and Scenic River (PWSR) Toolkit!

"It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations."  (Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968)

National Wild and Scenic Rivers System LogoThe National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

Out of a desire to also protect a broader range of rivers in private ownership with a more community-based approach, some Wild and Scenic Rivers (WSRs) have been designated through the partnership model. These Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers (PWSRs) are managed through locally-driven, collaborative planning between local, state and regional stakeholders, and the National Park Service (NPS). This approach is an effective alternative to federal administration that provides national river protection through a collaborative approach where communities protect their unique rivers and its resources.

This Toolkit is designed to provide resources for those interested in Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers at any stage of discovery.


Choose Explore if you are new to the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers system, exploring designation or working toward Study legislation.

The Explore page will take groups from an introduction to the program through the process of getting a Wild and Scenic River Study bill introduced to Congress, and includes resources for planning, assessment, outreach and community engagement.

Choose Study if you are ready to conduct a PWSR river study and write a river management plan.

The Study page will follow the passage of the study authorization legislation and continues through the completion of the Comprehensive River Management Plan and potential introduction of designation legislation. Resources include sample timelines, links to management plans and Congressional reports, information on identifying the outstanding values of the river and the public engagement necessary to complete the study process.

Choose Designate if you’d like to know more about the implementation of designation of a Partnership Wild and Scenic River.

The Designate page is geared towards those that are managing PWSRs and includes information on the benefits of designation, such as forming a post-designation committee, innovative approaches to management, success stories, monitoring initiatives, and more.

NEWS Check out the PWSR news!
RESOURCES For more information on the PWSR program visit the handbook (link coming soon) and the Resources library.


Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers Map

Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers.  Though all are currently in the Eastern United States, any river in the
country may be considered for Wild and Scenic designation under the Partnership approach.

Please find the full interactive map on rivers.gov.

 A man is canoeing down rapids in the Missiquoi River, VT. Photo by Ken Secor

Out of a desire to also protect a broader range of rivers in private or shared ownership using a more community-based approach, Congress amended the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, first in the late 1970s and again later, to limit federal land acquisition and mandate cooperative federal, state, and local planning conservation efforts. This history is captured in Volume 25, Number 2 (2008) of The George Wright Forum. These changes allowed the first Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers (PWSRs) to be designated. Under the Partnership model, rivers are managed by locally-driven, collaborative planning between local, state and regional stakeholders and the National Park Service (NPS). This management approach to river conservation is an effective alternative to direct federal management and administration. Designation provides river protection under the WSR Act, anchored by federal protection for the water course itself and supported by limited federal funding. Read about the first 20 years of success of this management model.  The Great Egg Harbor River (NJ, 129 miles, designated in 1992) was the first PWSR designated. This PWSR was designated for its outstanding resources which included threatened and endangered species; resting, breeding, and feeding areas for waterfowl; rich history; recreation and scenic vistas.  

More information may be found in the NPS WSR Storymap.

An Osprey is facing the camera in its nest along the Great Egg. A ship and tug boat can be seen in the distant on the water.

This is a dynamic toolkit - our goal is to update, evolve and improve over time. Please provide us with your feedback on the toolkit in this brief survey. Send us your ideas, success stories, examples, photos, events and more! Email shana.stewart[at]vtwsr[dot]org with feedback or articles to add to the PWSR Toolkit.