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Congress to Take Up Wild and Scenic River Bills Covering Over 1000 River Miles

Posted: 07/08/2019
By: Thomas O'Keefe

This week, the House Natural Resource Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will hold a hearing on bills that would designate over 1000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. American Whitewater has brought the voice of the whitewater paddling community to the discussions that led to these legislative proposals with a goal of protecting rivers and the whitewater paddling experience.

The hearing will take place in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building at 10am on Wednesday July 10th. You can watch the hearing on the livestream at the following link: <>

You can help us by tweeting your enthusiasm for this hearing by mentioning the Committee (@NRDems and @NatResources) and tagging #WildAndScenic.

You can also send a quick email to your Members of Congress communicating your enthusiasm for Wild and Scenic Rivers. We've made it easy by creating a template with all the bills and numbers. Personalize it with a message on your connection to rivers.

Follow it up with a tweet (see below for who to mention and what to tag for each bill).

Priority bills for American Whitewater that will be featured in this week's hearing include the following:

Wild Olympics (H.R. 2642) - Thank @RepDerekKilmer and tag #WildOlympics

This bill would designate 464 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers that would include 19 rivers and their major tributaries. Rivers like the Sitkum, Matheny Creek, Sol Duc, Elwha, and South Fork Skokomish offer outstanding opportunities for whitewater paddlers to experience old-growth forests and fern-covered gorges. Some of the rivers like the Dosewallips have been considered for hydropower development schemes. The legislation would also protect 126,000 acres of ancient forests, within the headwaters of the major Olympic Peninsula rivers, as wilderness. Representative Kilmer has been working to bring this bill to a hearing since he became a Member of Congress.

Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act (H.R. 2250) - Thank @RepHuffman and tag #MountainsAndRivers

This bill would designate 379 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers. Rivers that flow through the fog-shrouded redwood forests and crystalline turquoise pools of Northern California represent some of the most spectacular wild rivers on the West Coast. While many of these rivers in the region were protected in the final hours of the Carter Administration in 1980, Representative Huffman has led an effort to protect additional river miles and upper watersheds while ensuring that communities can reduce forest fire fuel load. East Fork North Fork Trinity River and Canyon Creek would be among the new Wild and Scenic Rivers along with Redwood Creek, a whitewater run that provides an experience of paddling through a forest of the tallest living trees in the world. The bill would establish a 730,000 restoration area within the South Fork Trinity River, Mad River, and North Fork Eel watersheds for forest restoration and forest fire fuel reduction. In addition, 260,000 acres of proposed wilderness, largely in the Trinity River basin, would protect upper watersheds and the river resources downstream.

Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R. 2199) - Thank @RepCarbajal and tag #CentralCoastWild

This bill would designate 159 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers including the upper reaches of Piru Creek, a rare waterway for the region that provides outstanding wilderness whitewater less than an hour drive from downtown Los Angeles. In addition, additional miles of Sespe Creek above the classic exploratory section would be designated. The bill would also designate nearly 250,000 acres of wilderness and create two new scenic areas in California's Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Representative Carbajal is the prime sponsor of this bill with 12 additional co-sponsors.

San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 2215) - Thank @RepJudyChu and tag #SanGabrielMtns

This bill would designate 45.5 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers in Southern California including the San Gabriel and its primary forks. This bill spurs outdoor recreation by connecting park-poor areas, especially communities of color, to open space. This legislation expands the San Gabriel National Monument established in 2014 by an additional 109,00 acres, and establishes a National Recreation Area along the San Gabriel River. The legislation would also protect more than 30,000 acres as wilderness. Representative Chu is the prime sponsor of this bill with 17 additional co-sponsors.

In total, these four bills would protect 1048 river miles under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act including a number of rivers that are enjoyed by the whitewater paddling community. We appreciate the leadership of all the Members of Congress who sponsored these bills.

Associated Rivers

Elwha WA
Matheny Creek WA
Piru Creek CA
1) Upper I-V
Sespe Creek CA
Skokomish, S. Fork WA

Associated Projects

Wild Olympics (WA)

A campaign to protect the free-flowing rivers of the Olympic Peninsula.

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