The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act at 50: Overlooked Watershed Protection

9 Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law 1 (2019)

94 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2019 Last revised: 22 Feb 2019

See all articles by Michael C. Blumm

Michael C. Blumm

Lewis & Clark Law School

Max Yoklic

Lewis & Clark College, Law School, Students

Date Written: January 18, 2019

Abstract

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2018 without much fanfare. The WSRA has been somewhat overshadowed by the Wilderness Act, which preceded it by four years, and by the National Environmental Policy Act and the pollution control statutes which followed in the 1970s. But the WSRA was a significant conservation achievement, has now extended its protections to over 200 rivers, and has the potential to provide watershed protection to many more in the future. This article explains the statute and its implementation over the last half-century as well as a number of challenges to fulfilling its laudable goals of protecting free-flowing rivers, their water quality, and their “outstandingly remarkable values.” We make a number of suggestions to the managing agencies and to Congress if the WSRA’s achievements over the next half-century are to match the last fifty years, including reviving congressional interest in study rivers, updating managing agencies’ river plans to focus on non-federal lands within river corridors, and ensuring that those river plans provide the watershed protection Congress envisioned when it included a significant amount of riparian land within WSRA river corridors. We also call for a new emphasis on rivers that should be studied for their restoration potential and for more states to take advantage of the statute’s unusual pathway for state-designated rivers to gain WSRA protections.

Keywords: natural resources law, water law, enivornmental law, public lands law, administrative law

JEL Classification: H23, K11, K23, K32, Q24, Q25, Q26, Q28, Q34, Q38, Q42, Q48, Q57, Q58, R52

Suggested Citation

Blumm, Michael C. and Yoklic, Max, The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act at 50: Overlooked Watershed Protection (January 18, 2019). 9 Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law 1 (2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3318533 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3318533

Michael C. Blumm (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States
503-768-6824 (Phone)
503-768-6701 (Fax)

Max Yoklic

Lewis & Clark College, Law School, Students ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

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