The National Wild & Scenic Rivers Program

BROODING RIVER (Photo by Tom Cameron)

Thank you for your interest in learning more about the Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers Program and about the special resources of the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook.  These “Outstandingly Remarkable Values”, as the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act calls them, are what made these watercourses eligible for Wild and Scenic designation and are described below. Here you can also read a description of each of the two watercourses.

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Program 

The National Wild & Scenic River Program was established by Congress in 1968 to protect certain outstanding rivers from the harmful effects of new federal projects such as dams and hydroelectric facilities. About the WSR Act ( Today over 220 rivers have been designated by the U.S. Congress as Wild and Scenic Rivers.  Most of these rivers are in the west and flow through federal land like National Parks and National Forests. They are managed by agencies of the federal government. 

Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers are a small number of rivers in the eastern United States that run through a combination of privately owned land and local and state properties. The National Park Service has administrative responsibilities for the rivers, but they are managed in partnership with representatives appointed by the local towns and other stakeholder organizations, for example, watershed associations and state environmental agencies. There are 16 eastern rivers designated as Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers, including 4 in Connecticut, the Eightmile River, the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed, the (upper) Farmington River and our own local watercourses, the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook. (Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers – Wild and Scenic Rivers Program, U.S. National Park Service,

Eligibility and Suitability Requirements

When a river is designated Wild & Scenic, it has permanent federal protection not only from new federal projects such as dams and hydroelectric facilities, but from other projects with federal funding or permitting that could adversely affect the special regional or national features which made it “eligible” to be designated. These can include water quality, geological and scenic features, outstanding fish and wildlife resources, cultural and historical aspects and recreational uses.  Together these are referred to in the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act as “outstandingly remarkable values” (ORVS).

To be eligible to be designated Wild & Scenic within the Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers model, a river not only has to have at least one ORV, but also has to be “suitable”. Suitability depends on factors such as public support for designation versus support for conflicting river uses like hydroelectric development, sufficient existing local and state protections and lasting protection measures as described in the Management Plan. “Local residents, leaders and organizations must show strong support of their intent to participate in long-term protection of the river.” (Study Report, pp. 1-2) 

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