Law & Policy

The Wild and Scenic Rivers system was created in 1968 through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA). The WSRA (Public Law 90-542;16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) is notable for safeguarding the special character of 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.

National Park Service

To support the mandates of the Act, the National Park Service (NPS) has developed policy to address Wild and Scenic River management, stewardship, and study. Director’s Order # 46 provides policy guidance necessary for accountability, consistency, and continuity in the implementation of the WSR Act by the NPS. The NPS works to study potential rivers and manage Wild and Scenic Rivers for the values for which they are designated. These documents can be found on the Wild and Scenic NPGallery page along with other important document collections pertaining to the rivers. The associated Reference Manual # 46 addresses issues that the NPS frequently encounters as part of our administrative and management responsibilities for wild and scenic rivers (WSRs). Within the National Park Service is the Wild and Scenic Rivers Steering Committee which is a policy interpreting body who works to establish service-wide policies and guidelines.


The Wild and Scenic Rivers Program participates with interagency partners in the Interagency Wild and Scenic River Coordinating Council (IWSRCC). This council consists of representatives of the four Wild and Scenic Rivers administering agencies – the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service. The overriding goal of the Council is to improve interagency coordination in administering the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. For further publications and policies please look at

Last updated: October 16, 2023