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Partnership Wild and Scenic River (PWSR) News

National Wild and Scenic Rivers System Logo

As a way of connecting, celebrating, and sharing their stories, the PWSR News was created, and produced every few years since the early 2000s.  The audience for the PWSR News is predominantly the partnership rivers and those that work to protect them, though each installment has been shared with river organizations and those interested in learning more about Wild and Scenic River designation using the partnership model.
This summer with the assistance of NPS Communications Fellow Cassidy Quistorff, the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program launched a new style of virtual newsletter. For each partnership river, the newsletter highlights their success stories within their designation month. Connecticut’s Farmington River, which was designated in August of 1994, was the first river to be highlighted.

The following months focused on nine additional Partnership rivers, with locations from Florida up to the Canadian border in Vermont. The project will conclude with the May issue, highlighting the May 8, 2008 designation of the Eightmile River in CT. Below are links to the editions of the PWSR News Volume 6 produced in 2020-2021. Sign up to join the mailing list and receive these newsletters!
  • August 2020 marked the anniversary month for the Farmington River (CT). See the NPS News for August’s stories.
  • October 2020 marked the anniversary month for three Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers: Great Egg Harbor (NJ), White Clay Creek (DE/PA), and Wekiva (FL) Rivers. See the NPS News for October’s stories.
  • November 2020 marked the anniversary month for three Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers: Lamprey (NH), Lower Delaware (NJ/PA) and Westfield (MA) Rivers. See the NPS News for November’s stories.
  • December 2020marked the anniversary month for three Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers: Maurice (NJ), Musconetcong (NJ) and Upper Missisquoi and Trout (VT) Rivers. See the NPS News for December’s stories.
  • March 2021marked the anniversary month for four Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers: the Taunton River (MA) designated in 2009, and our the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook (CT); Nashua, Squannacook, and Nissitissit Rivers (MA/NH); and Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed (CT/RI) all designated in 2019. See the NPS News for March’s stories.

Past newsletters can be found below in two formats, a PDF or a Word Document developed to make the use of screen readers a little easier.

  • PWSR News Volume 1: PDF | DOC
  • PWSR News Volume 2: PDF | DOC
  • PWSR News Volume 3: PDF | DOC
  • PWSR News Volume 4: PDF | DOC
  • PWSR News Volume 5 (25 Years of Success Report ): PDF

Partnership Wild and Scenic River (PWSR) Toolkit Introduction

Wild and Scenic Rivers 50th Anniversary Logo
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. The Congress declares that the established national policy of dams and other construction at appropriate sections of the rivers of the United States needs to be complemented by a policy that would preserve other selected rivers or sections thereof in their free-flowing condition to protect the water quality of such rivers and to fulfill other vital national conservation purposes." 
(Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968)

 

A map of the current Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers, the majority of them reside in the North-East of the US.   

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 to designation.
 

For 50 years the Wild and Scenic Rivers (WSR) program has been protecting our waters through the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Yet less than ¼ of 1% of our nation’s rivers are protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Many initial rivers in the system were under federal ownership and management. As you can imagine, managing rivers with one or two landowners (typically the U.S. government and perhaps some state or local ownership) would be easier to manage than our current patchwork ownership of lands. This led, for some, the notion that Wild and Scenic River status was only for pristine, preserved western rivers with national ownership.  Oregon has the most rivers designated (47), including the spectacular Klamath River. Alaska has the most miles designated (3,210), including such rivers of the imagination as the Yukon. Idaho has some of our most celebrated wild rivers—the Salmon, Snake, and Selway, among others. These rivers flow primarily through federally-owned lands and management is relatively straightforward. Yet less than ¼ of 1% of our nation’s rivers are protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.  Many initial rivers in the system were under federal ownership and management.  As you can imagine, managing rivers with one or two landowners (typically the U.S. government and perhaps some state or local ownership) would be easier to manage than our current patchwork ownership of lands.  This led, for some, the notion that Wild and Scenic River status was only for pristine, preserved western rivers with national ownership.  Oregon has the most rivers designated (47), including the spectacular Klamath River.  Alaska has the most miles designated (3,210), including such rivers of the imagination as the Yukon.  Idaho has some of our most celebrated wild rivers—the Salmon, Snake, and Selway, among others.  These rivers flow primarily through federally-owned lands and management is relatively straightforward.

 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 ownership with 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.  A great history of this may be found 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. Partnership Rivers are managed by locally-driven, collaborative planning between local, state and regional stakeholders and the National Park Service (NPS). This and management approach to river conservation is an effective alternative to direct federal management and administration that provides nationally-designated river protection anchored by federal protection for the water course itself and supported by federal funding.  The PWSR program has published a report on the first 20 years of success of this management model.  The Great Egg in New Jersey (129 Miles Designated in 1992) was the first PWSR designated, and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017.  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.  

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.

Any federal system can be complex to navigate. This is a Toolkit designed to provide resources for anyone interested in Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers at any stage of discovery.  Will you use it as a reference guide for the Wild and Scenic designation, a how-to guide for understanding and completing a Study, or a cookbook for post-designation success? The path you choose is up to you!

  • Choose 1 - Explore if you are new to the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers system. Here you will find an overview of the program, links to FAQs and information on how to find out if your river may be eligible, or how to begin a study. There will be contact information for groups where you can learn more, and examples of legislation that has designated rivers.  Start exploring
  • Choose 2 - Study if you would like more information about the study process of a Partnership Wild and Scenic River. Here you will find an overview of the study, sample timelines, links to management plans and Congressional reports, ideas for navigating local communication, and more. Continue your Study
  • Choose 3 - Designate if you’d like to know more about the implementation of designation of a Partnership Wild and Scenic River. Here you will find help with forming a post-designation committee, innovative approaches to management, water quality success stories, monitoring initiatives, and more. Work through designation

This is a dynamic toolkit - our goal is to update, evolve and improve over time. Please provide us with your feedback on the toolkit.  Send us your ideas, success stories, examples, photos, events and more!

Throughout this Toolkit you may see the following icons that tie the online toolkit to a series of accompaniments including PowerPoints and handouts. The hammer icon Toolkit Reference within a PowerPoint accompaniment refers to a Toolkit Reference in a PowerPoint accompaniment. The light bulb icon Key Point within the PWSR Toolkit illustrates a key point within this Toolkit. Many thanks to Helen Hope for her work on the accompanying materials for this Toolkit.

This is in initial stages and a work in progress, and I'd love your feedback and ideas. Keep checking back as the full Toolkit comes online and includes resources for all stages of action with Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation and river management.  Email shana.stewart[at]vtwsr[dot]org for more information.