For Immediate Release: March 22, 2018
Contact: Jonathan Oppenheimer, Idaho Conservation League, 208.867.3505
BOISE – Amid the standard debate and political division in the Idaho Legislature, one message rang clear this session: Idahoans value the rivers that make our state beautiful and unique. The passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 132 commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic River Act and honors the role that Idahoans played in its passing. Introduced by Sens. Dan Johnson (R-Lewiston) and Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), along with Rep. Rick Youngblood (R-Nampa), the resolution passed unanimously in the Idaho Senate and with no opposing debate in the House.
In 1968, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed the U.S. Senate on a vote of 84-0 and the House of Representatives on a vote of 265-7. Sen. Frank Church of Idaho played a key role in its passage, along with Idaho Reps. James McClure and George Hansen. The continued bipartisan support illustrates that protecting water quality and pristine rivers remains an Idaho priority that spans political boundaries.
"This kind of win is rare for conservationists in Idaho, and the Idaho Legislature’s strong stance for safeguarding our rivers is something to celebrate. While the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is a federal law that protects rivers across the United States, Idaho was particularly influential in its creation and passing," noted Jonathan Oppenheimer, government relations director for the Idaho Conservation League.
The Wild and Scenic River Act
On October 2, 1968, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson to establish a network of pristine rivers across the country. The measure shields these remarkable waterways from dam building and other development to ensure that they remained free-flowing and pristine. The rivers currently protected under the Wild and Scenic River Act make up less than one quarter of one percent of the total miles of streams in the United States, but the 12,734 miles that are designated are some of the most beautiful and valued waters in the world. For more information about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, visit rivers.gov.
Representatives from Idaho were instrumental in the passing of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the resolution passed by the Idaho Legislature this year recognized their contributions.
The involvement and leadership of Sen. Church and Reps. McClure and Hansen led to some of Idaho’s most remarkable streams being designated, including the Middle Fork Salmon, Selway, Lochsa and Middle Fork Clearwater. Other rivers have been added over the years. Most recently, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s efforts led to the successful passage of the Owyhee Public Lands Management Act in 2009. This bill protected wilderness areas and wild rivers in the Owyhee Canyonlands of southwestern Idaho.
"The commemoration of environmental protections during a time of political divisiveness is a victory for conservation and for all Idahoans who value the majesty of our wild and free-flowing rivers. It’s a win for Idaho," Oppenheimer concluded.