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A Wild and Scenic Coalition is Born

Posted: 02/11/2019
by Kevin Colburn

In 2018, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Wild and Scenic River System. In the wake of the impressive anniversary successes, however, one might ask, “So, now what?” Luckily, the rivers community asked that question some time ago. As with conservation innovations of the past, a group of river advocates and concerned citizens united to ensure that the rivers anniversary wasn’t simply a one-time party. And so, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition was born at River Rally 2018 from the power of the unprecedented national-level cooperation undertaken during the anniversary. American Whitewater has been a leading proponent of forming a Wild and Scenic River Coalition for the past several years and we have long worked nationally with a group of partner organizations on Wild and Scenic issues. We are now thrilled be a founding and active member of this new coalition that has a bright future.

American Whitewater was among those organizations large and small that made a pact to craft and execute a collective vision for cooperative river advocacy at the 2018 River Rally. In October 2018 at the River Management Symposium in Vancouver, Washington, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition unveiled itself with the following goals:

  • Capacity: Build greater capacity for coalition member organizations to be more effective advocating for Wild and Scenic River protections.
  • Advocacy: Protect and defend designated and potential Wild and Scenic Rivers and the river professionals who steward them.
  • Communications: Improve communications among coalition member organizations and with the public about the value of Wild and Scenic Rivers.


As we begin 2019, 29 organizations have signed on to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition. Although ambitious goals and success metrics will demand sustained annual progress in future years, modest year-one benchmarks include expanding the Coalition and forming working teams around specific tasks. With funds remaining from the 50th anniversary, the Coalition has hired its first part-time coordinator, Lisa Ronald, who led anniversary celebration efforts in 2017 and 2018. Through these and other steps, the Coalition will ensure a Wild and Scenic future for our rivers.

Kevin Colburn
Asheville, NC