5,000 Miles. 5,000 Stories. One Unified Voice for Our Rivers

We are a campaign of grassroots partners, individuals and businesses in a united effort for wild river protection, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Our goal is to protect 5,000 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers and one million acres of riverside lands nationwide.

As part of this effort, we are sharing stories of America’s rivers and the people who love them. By collecting 5,000 personal stories from people across the country and presenting them in film, social media and other channels, we will celebrate how rivers connect us all.

We will send one clear and unified message to our elected leaders: Our rivers are worth saving. Read the 5,000 Miles of Wild factsheet.

Who are we?

5,000 Miles of Wild is a joint campaign of non-profit and corporate partners. See: https://www.5000miles.org/sponsors/

What are Wild and Scenic Rivers?

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.

12,000 miles of rivers currently enjoy Wild and Scenic River protection – rivers like the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Rogue, Chattooga, Tuolumne, and New. But many rivers are still at risk. Today, less than one percent of America’s rivers are wild and free. We have more work to do to save our last, wild rivers.

Learn more about Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Why protect Wild and Scenic Rivers?

Healthy rivers are essential to the health and well-being of each and every American.

  • Clean water is essential to our health, and rivers provide more than two-thirds of our drinking water supplies.
  • Rivers tell the story of our nation’s history and they run through our culture – our music, literature, and art.
  • River-related recreation and tourism contribute more than $97 billion to the U.S. economy per year.
  • Wild rivers are pathways to adventure, allowing us to discover new places, connect with friends and family, and enjoy access to the best fishing, paddling, and hiking anywhere.
  • The wildlife habitat provided by lands along their banks is among the most essential on the planet.

What does a Wild and Scenic River designation do?

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protects the free and natural flow of a river and its special features. In particular it:

  • Safeguards clean water
  • Prevents activities that would significantly harm the river’s character and benefits
  • Prohibits new dams or damaging water projects
  • Protects land along the river — a quarter-mile protective buffer is established along Wild and Scenic Rivers flowing through publicly-owned lands.
  • Requires a management plan with input from local landowners and other stakeholders

The Act recognizes that people and their needs change. The goal is to preserve the character of a river, and engage the local community in its management for the long-term.

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System works with landowners around the country. In fact, landowners often want rivers that cross their land to be protected as Wild and Scenic. They realize the many benefits of a protected river, which include:

  • Preserving quality of life
  • Protecting property value
  • Boosting the local economy with recreation and tourism dollars

Where are the 5,000 Miles?

1,500 miles will come from grassroots campaigns in 12 states to protect new Wild and Scenic Rivers through federal legislation.

  • Washington: Nooksack River – 113 miles; 36,000 acres
  • Washington: Wild Olympics – 454 miles; 144,000 acres
  • Oregon: Oregon Wildlands – 250 miles; 250,000 acres
  • Oregon: Owyhee Canyonlands – 45 miles; 2.5 million acres
  • California: Northwest California’s Mountains and Rivers – 485 miles; 326,000 acres
  • California: California Desert Protection and Recreation Act – 73 miles; 400,000 acres
  • California: Central Coast Heritage Protection Act – 159 miles; 244,909 acres
  • Montana: Montanans for Healthy Rivers – 700 miles; 224,000 acres
  • Colorado: Deep Creek and Crystal River – 49 miles; 15,000 acres
  • New Mexico: Gila River and San Francisco River – 100 miles; 32,000 acres
  • Connecticut: Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook – 62 miles
  • Maine: York River and tributaries – 120 miles
  • Maine and New Hampshire: Nashua, Nissitissit, Squannacook Rivers – 64.9 miles
  • Connecticut and Rhode Island: Wood-Pawcatuck and tributaries – 59 miles
  • North Carolina: Nolichucky River – 7.2 miles

3,500 miles will come through federal administrative protections secured during the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management forest plan and management plan revisions.

  • Montana: Flathead, Helena, Custer Gallatin, and Lewis and Clark National Forests
  • Idaho: Nez Perce-Clearwater and Salmon-Challis National Forests
  • Wyoming: Bridger Teton National Forest
  • New Mexico: Carson and Farmington National Forests
  • North Carolina: Nantahala Pisgah National Forest

Wild and Scenic Rivers Resource Center

Find information and tools you need to advocate for protections on your river

More Stories

You Should Marry a River Guide

My “river moment” is really a high speed compilation of millions of moments that span the last 28 years (and counting), and has very recently given me my own wonderful...

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Winter on the Wild White Salmon River

Original Post I made a few years ago is here: https://medium.com/cropping-cascadia/winter-on-the-wild-white-salmon-river-98f5978633e Figured it would align well with the intention here! The White Salmon River runs down the slopes of...

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Winter on the Lower Salmon

“Bring an axe”, they said. “Just in case you need to chop through the ice to get to shore.” This sounded crazy, but I packed the axe and launched my...

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Wild Run

It was just before daylight on the Samish River. Wild run Coho and King salmon where stacked up in every deep pool in the river. Two guys on the opposite...

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Wild Nooksack

The sound of rushing water and songs of an ouzel draw me closer to the river. For years, as a mountain lover I passed by the Nooksack River on my...

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