The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 (Public Law 90-542;16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) 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.
The NPS Wild and Scenic Rivers (WSR) Program provides support to managers of WSRs administered by NPS and of rivers in parks with enabling legislation similar to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Its purpose is to protect and enhance river resources, meet the legislative requirements, improve internal and external communication and coordination, and educate NPS staff, stakeholders and the public about the importance of WSRs.