Credit: Contributed photo
Idaho Capitol Building
As of Saturday, February 17, 2018
BOISE A concurrent resolution recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was given a do-pass recommendation by the Senate Resources and Environment Committee Feb. 12.
The act, brought by Idahoan congressmen and approved in 1968, created a national policy to preserve certain rivers or sections of rivers in their free-flowing form, rather than having them dammed. The act sought to preserve these rivers for the “benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.” Idaho’s former U.S. Sen. Frank Church authored the bill and Idaho’s former U.S. Reps. George Hansen and James McClure cosponsored it in the House, according to the concurrent resolution.
"It is just in recognition of their good work and the benefits that have come to Idaho because of it,” Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said.
As of December 2014, the system protected 12,734 miles of 208 rivers, less than one-quarter of one percent of U.S. rivers, according to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System website. According to the website, about 17 percent of American rivers have been modified by dams since the act passed. Less than one percent of Idaho rivers have been protected by the act.
Most recently, in 2009, the Bruneau, West Fork Bruneau, Jarbidge, Owyhee, North Fork Owyhee and South Fork Owyhee Rivers, along with Battle, Big Jacks, Cottonwood, Deep, Dickshooter, Duncan, Little Jacks, Red Canyon, Sheep and Wickahoney Creeks, were designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers through the recommendation of the Owyhee Public Lands Initiative, the resolution reported.
Oct. 2 will be the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Nina Rydalch covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.