Authorizations and Policies

Quinebaug River reflecting autumn leaves on the water

Quinebaug River - Cathy Cline, Wikimedia

Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - Section 5(d) of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. 1271-1287) requires that "In all planning for the use and development of water and related land resources, consideration shall be given by all Federal agencies involved to potential national wild, scenic and recreational river areas." It further requires that "the Secretary of the Interior shall make specific studies and investigations to determine which additional wild, scenic and recreational river areas.....shall be evaluated in planning reports by all Federal agencies as potential alternative uses of water and related land resources involved."


The Nationwide Rivers Inventory - In partial fulfillment of the Section 5(d) requirements, the National Park Service has compiled and maintains a Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI), a register of river segments that potentially qualify as national wild, scenic or recreational river areas. The NRI qualifies as a comprehensive plan under Section 10(a)(2)(A) of the Federal Power Act.

Council on Environmental Quality (August 11th, 1980, 45 Fed. Reg. 59190-59192) - The “Procedures for Interagency Consultation to Avoid or Mitigate Adverse Effects in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory” promulgated by the Council on Environmental Quality outlines the necessary steps required of federal officials in the process of complying with Section 5(d) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as part of their standard environmental review procedures, and the Presidential Directive associated with the Nationwide Rivers Inventory.

Presidential Memorandum to Heads of Departments and Agencies - This presidential memorandum requires each federal agency, as part of its normal planning and environmental review processes, to take care to avoid or mitigate adverse effects on rivers identified in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory compiled by NPS. Further, all agencies are required to consult with the National Park Service prior to taking actions which could effectively foreclose wild, scenic or recreational status for rivers on the inventory.

Presidential Memorandum to the Secretary of the Interior - This presidential memorandum requires that agencies within the Department of the Interior improve techniques for identifying and designating wild and scenic rivers as well as provide interested parties with a list of rivers in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory.

Statewide River Assessments & Inventories - Pursuant to Section 11 of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, NPS has been providing technical assistance to states in the conduct of statewide river assessments and inventories. These efforts provide a source for potential future additions to the Nationwide Rivers Inventory and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System especially as State- administered components.

Public Law 88-29 - Outdoor Recreation Act of 1963 - authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to: prepare and maintain a continuing inventory and evaluation of outdoor recreation needs and resources including rivers; provide technical assistance; encourage interstate and regional cooperation in the planning, acquisition and development of outdoor recreation resources; sponsor and engage in research and education; cooperate with and provide technical assistance to Federal departments and agencies; and promote coordination of Federal plans and activities generally relating to outdoor recreation resources including rivers and associated trail corridors. The NPS Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Division is currently responsible for many of these responsibilities.

Director’s Order #46: Wild and Scenic Rivers - This order was signed May 1st, 2015 and describes the roles of the National Park under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The National Park Service, as well as other federal agencies, “must take care to avoid or mitigate actions that could adversely affect NRI segments [.]”

Last updated: April 9, 2018