Wild and Scenic Rivers
In 1968, Congress established a national policy to protect undeveloped rivers and streams, through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Public Law 90-542) and the creation of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. To be included this system, a river must be free-flowing and the stream corridor must contain at least one “outstandingly remarkable” resource value, such as its scenic and habitat qualities or its recreational potential. Eligible rivers are further categorized either as “wild”, “scenic”, or “recreational” rivers, based on their naturalness and accessibility for recreational uses.
St. George Field Office Wild River Segments
Through the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Congress designated approximately 165 miles of the Virgin River and its tributaries across Federal land within and adjacent to Zion National Park to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Eleven river segments, which total approximately 20 miles, are managed by BLM’s St. George Field Office and designated as “wild” rivers. Each of the segments flows into or out of Zion National Park and a majority are within new wilderness areas that were also designated in the 2009 legislation.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protects the natural, undeveloped qualities of designated rivers, through restrictions on land uses and activities that could impair or destroy these values. Because all but two of the BLM-managed segments flow through newly designated wilderness areas, motorized and mechanized vehicle travel and equipment use are prohibited within these river corridors. Primitive recreational activities, such as hiking, backpacking, camping, and fishing, continue to be authorized public uses of the designated rivers and adjacent BLM-managed public lands.