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This is a working draft.  This is a dynamic toolkit - our goal is to update, evolve and improve over time.  Please provide us with your feedback on the toolkit.  Send us your ideas, success stories, examples, photos, events and more!  Please return soon for the most up-to-date version of the Toolkit after review.

Welcome to the Study section of the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers Toolkit.  Here you will find an overview of the study, sample timelines, links to management plans and Congressional reports, ideas for navigating local communication, and more.

In order to have Wild and Scenic designation in areas with private ownership and varied stakeholders, Congress has specified in some Wild and Scenic River designations that rivers are to be administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service (NPS) in partnership with local governments, committees and non-governmental organizations, generally through the use of cooperative agreements.  The National Park Service role includes:  technical assistance in identifying and vetting the eligibility of your river (is it free-flowing, does it have outstanding values at the regional or national scale); attendance at public informational meetings to help explain the designation and address misconceptions; coordination with state or local governmental agencies on the study and designation, and more.  In these Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers communities protect their own outstanding rivers and river-related resources through a collaborative approach with the NPS as one partner.

 

Some of the best resources are coordinators and committee members for current Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers and River Studies.  The rivers.gov website has links to all of the designated PWSRs and those under study. 

 Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers of the Northeast    Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers of the Southeast

Current Wild and Scenic Rivers designated through the Partnership approach.  
Any river in the United States may be considered for Wild and Scenic designation.

Study is Trial Run

Want to learn more, see a more detailed analysis of the questions around a Partnership Wild and Scenic River Study below.

    

 

Natl. Water Trails Forum Corita

“Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers provide the framework for local citizens leading the management and protection and enhancement of their rivers... that seems magical to me in some way.” 

~Corita K. Waters, River Partnerships Program Specialist, National Park Service

Here are the major questions addressed below:

Is a Partnership Wild and Scenic River Study right for your river?

Do I want a PWSR Study?

Who do I talk to if I’m interested in a PWSR Study?

What is a typical Study Timeline?  How long will the Study take?

How do I get Study Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress?

My Study Legislation passed, now what?

How does a Study Committee form?

Answer four key questions...

 

How do I determine if my river is suitable for designation? 

4.  Are Congressional offices engaged and willing to support the management plan and its recommendations? 

  

Is a Partnership Wild and Scenic River Study right for your river?

Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers (PWSRs) - Local Control, Limited Federal Role

The National Park Service, in collaboration with the River Management Society, recently completed a video that highlights three rivers designated under the Wild and Scenic Act through the partnership model.  This video, River Connections, is a helpful overview of the PWSR approach to designation, around 15 minutes in length and available on rivers.gov.  

Over 200 rivers nationwide are designated federally as Wild and Scenic; however, only 12 river systems in New England have been designated – with the most recent being the Taunton in Massachusetts in 2009 and the first in Vermont (Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers) designated in 2014.  This is partially due to the unique challenges faced by those seeking designation of rivers that predominantly flow through non-federal lands with multiple landowners.  Early Studies in northeastern rivers failed in part because it was unclear how to protect national river values on private lands without federal acquisition and management.  The federal system needed to figure out how to protect outstanding rivers and their values without ownership, and in coordination with local and state jurisdictions and local stakeholders and landowners.  The history of this challenge is described here.

In order to have Wild and Scenic designation in areas with private ownership and varied stakeholders, Congress has specified in some Wild and Scenic River designations that rivers are to be administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service (NPS) in partnership with local governments, committees and non-governmental organizations, generally through the use of cooperative agreements.  The National Park Service role includes:  technical assistance in identifying and vetting the eligibility of your river (is it free-flowing, does it have outstanding values at the regional or national scale); attendance at public informational meetings to help explain the designation and address misconceptions; coordination with state or local governmental agencies on the study and designation, and more.  In these Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers communities protect their own outstanding rivers and river-related resources through a collaborative approach with the NPS as one partner.

These Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers are a subset of the national Wild and Scenic System and flow through land predominantly held in private ownership or lands owned by state and local governments.  This ownership is maintained regardless of designation.  Though this partnership model is available throughout the United States, PWSRs currently exist only in the east.  Twelve river systems in New England and one in Florida (Wekiva) are managed by this partnership process.  The National Park Service published a 20 Years of Success report detailing the successes of this approach to designation and celebrating the rivers designated under this model.

Do I want a PWSR Study?

Partnership River Studies:

  • do not rely on federal land ownership or management
  • rely on local and state regulations and management as before designation
  • are facilitated by a locally appointed Study Committee which helps implement designation of the rivers along with assistance from state, town, and federal partners (should designation occur a Post-designation Advisory Committee would be established to do the same)
  • requires no establishment of a national park or superintendent or law enforcement agent from the National Park Service – the Study Committee works with a NPS liaison who provides expertise and Study funding
  • does not require purchase or transfer of lands to the NPS
  • succeeds through voluntary education, outreach, and management efforts and local support


Ask these in early exploration

The Study process for Wild and Scenic designation requires commitment from stakeholders who need to be prepared for a sustained commitment.  The Study itself typically takes three years; however, the entire process literally requires acts of Congress that take time. 

  • Congress authorizes one of the river-managing agencies to conduct a Study (if the river is not on federal land, then the agency is often the NPS)
  • Agency reports findings back to Congress in a Study Report and Environmental Assessment
  • Congress authorizes legislation (or doesn’t) to designate a river 

 

Here is an example timeline from the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study in Vermont.

VTWSR Study Timeline

Here is another example timeline from the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Study in Connecticut.

Lower Farmington & Salmon Brook Study Timeline

To be eligible as a Wild and Scenic River the river must be free-flowing and have at least one river resource called an Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV).  Free-flowing river segments are those that do not have an impoundment even if impoundments occur upstream or downstream.  ORVs are those locally recognized values which are river-related and unique, rare, or exemplary features that are significant at a comparative regional or national scale. 

The eligibility analysis consists of an examination of the river’s hydrology, including any man-made alterations, and an inventory of its natural, cultural, and recreational resource

**

There are four keys to success for a Wild and Scenic River Study: 1) special river values; 2) local communities that care through a history of stewardship; 3) local partners with capacity and community legitimacy; 4) supportive members of Congress.

 River Connections Video

For more information see the Explore  section of this Toolkit or our video River Connections on Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers. 

Who do I talk to if I’m interested in a PWSR Study?

Consider inviting a National Park Service staff member to explore your river with you.  Click here to find a list of National Park Service Staff who work on Wild and Scenic Rivers. 

Some of the best resources are coordinators and committee members for current Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers and River Studies.  The rivers.gov website has links to all of the designated PWSRs and those under study. 

What is a typical Study Timeline?  How long will the Study take?

Exploring  the big ideas of designation is a big job.  Each of the steps (identifying significant river values on a flowing river, community support, local partners and protections, Congressional support) need to be explored and vetted.  Questions you need to answer include:  Do the identified significant river values pass the “straight face test?”  Who are the local partners and what is their standing?  Can you get letters of support from local governments?  Are congressional offices engaged, willing to support congressional action? 

Luckily you do not need to, and should not, answer these questions alone.  This Toolkit will explore each of these questions and give you a starting point from which to navigate the Study process.  Below are sample timelines from PWSR Study rivers.

Nashua Wild and Scenic River Study Timeline (MA)

York Wild and Scenic River Study Timeline (ME) 

How do I get Study Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress?

So, you decided you’re interested in a PWSR Study.  You’ve reviewed the timeline and know you and your fellow river conservation advocates are on board for the process.  You have talked with someone at the National Park Service, or other federal agency, and you are ready to seek authorization of a Study by Congress.  Typically this work is completed through a local watershed group or other nongovernmental organization or not-for-profit that has identified volunteers willing to seek a Study.  

The next step is to educate the local municipality representatives so that you can get letters of support for the Study.  Support letters may also come from community organizations.  These letters need not be exhaustive.  This is not a huge ask, because you are simply seeking a study of your river to see if it meets the eligibility and suitability requirements for WSR designation.  No one is under any obligation to seek designation, and designation is not sought without community support for designation.  After talking to your local municipal representatives, you will submit to them a letter for their signature to support Congress amending the WSR Act to authorize a Study of your river on the segments you define.

Lexis Nexis Bill to Law

Why do all of this now?  Because you want your Congressional staff to listen to you and submit Study legislation to Congress, something they will be unwilling to do without a demonstration of support of their constituents though these letters.  Pursuing a Study based on PWSR approach requires documentation of support from stakeholders and demonstration of local and congressional support for the Study.  There are many national organizations that support Wild and Scenic designation, and are willing to help with the legislative process.  American Whitewater has a nice overview of the Study process, and how to help more a bill through Congress.

Your local governmental entities will likely want to see the draft Study Legislation in order to sign off on seeking a WSR Study.  Legislation to authorize a Wild and Scenic Study is pretty short and simple.  Legislation typically:

Defines river segments to be studied
Defines the federal agency tasked with the study
Directs that a report to the U.S. Congress be submitted within 3 years
Missisquoi River photo by Martha Macy 
Missisquoi River, VT photo by Martha Macy

 

Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers (VT) Study Legislation

The Vermont Congressional delegation consisting of Representative Peter Welch and Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders introduced legislation H.R. 146 to Congress to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to include the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers as Study rivers.

This legislation became part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, and was signed on March 30, 2009 by President Obama as Public Law 111-11.  Title V, Subtitle B, Section 5101 of the act amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to authorize a Study of three segments of the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers in Vermont.

Once you have your legislation drafted, your legislation will need a sponsor, your Representative who is willing to talk to other Representatives about the bill and garner support.  This sponsor will introduce your legislation to Congress and it will be assigned a number (H.R. #).  Ideally all of your Representatives will support and jointly submit your legislation. 

Your Congressional delegation may wish to write a letter in support of the Study, in addition to submitting the Study bill to Congress.

Once introduced, the bill goes to a House Committee.  Often Committees will have hearings on the bill.  The Committee Chair may request testimony during this hearing from your Representatives or from the federal agency tasked with the Study (such as the NPS).  This Nashua Study Legislation testimony from the NPS is a good example of simple testimony that is simple and effective.  Committee hearings and House of Representatives debate are typically available to view online.  It’s amazing to watch a bill move through Congress.

If your bill is approved by Committee (bills can also get stuck in Committee and fail to move the bill, fail to have a hearing or submit changes to the bill – this is where support from your Representatives comes into play) then it is reported or sent to the House floor.  There your bill may stall, or ideally it will be debated.  During debate any recommendations for changes are made, Representatives may speak about your bill in support or ask questions.  Once debate is complete your bill may be voted upon.  If a majority of Representatives vote in support of your bill then it passes the House and is sent to the Senate.

When a bill reaches the Senate, it goes through the same steps it went through in the House.  The bill is discussed in a Senate Committee, and if it passes it is then sent to the Senate floor for vote.  There ideally both of your Senators will come out in support of the bill.  If the majority of Senators vote in support of your bill then it passes the Senate.

At any time during this process your bill could stall.  If this occurs and your bill doesn’t move through Congress during the two year window for which Representatives and Senators were elected, your bill will need to be reintroduced and the process will begin again.  Often in order for bills to move through Congress, they are synthesized into an omnibus bill that may have many unrelated bills combined into one large bill.  Representatives or Senators may proposed changes to the legislation.

The next step for your bill is the President of the United States.  When your bill reaches the President they may:

Do nothing – this is a pocket veto.  If this happens to your bill and Congress is in session the bill will become law after 10 days - if Congress is not in session the bill does not become a law.
Refuse to sign the bill – this is a veto.  If this happens your bill goes back to the House and Senate and they have the opportunity to have another vote.  If 2/3 of the Representatives and Senators support the bill, the President’s veto is overridden and the bill becomes a law.
Ideally, the president will sign the bill.  This passes the bill and it then becomes law.

Once the Study is authorized by Congress, including the timeline for delivery of the Study Report and recommendations to Congress typically within three years, then the Study can move forward.

    

My Study Legislation passed, now what?

The Nashua Wild and Scenic River Study website has a nice Study overview.  Below find the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Study Flow Chart

 

Typically a PWSR Study has been authorized by Congress for a duration of three years, though Congressional authorization for Study support can be up to five years.  This is a soft deadline, yet by the end of that time, a Study report and assessment of findings should be submitted to Congress by the federal agency tasked with the Study.  Funding for the Study is typically provided for three years through the NPS budget, which is submitted by the Washington Support Office (WASO) - NPS Operations at the National Level. 

There is a tension for most folks between jumping in/hitting the ground running with a Study, and forming a complete Study Committee.  Often there is a core group of volunteers that are part of a local watershed group or other nongovernmental organization or not-for-profit that is already in place once legislation passes that authorizes the Study.  Many groups start with this core and form the Study Committee.  This Committee may take many forms as illustrated below.  Once initiated the Study Committee will identify a mission statement, develop a workplan, set goals and guidelines for attracting various stakeholders to join the Committee and identify their roles, hire staff, and more.  The Study Committee is a key factor for success and should be thoughtfully created.  The Study Committee must have buy-in to the WSR Study process and establish from the outset that they are leading the Study and have leadership responsibility for the process.

How does a Study Committee form?

 PWSR Models

There are three typical models for forming a Study Committee.

Option 1: Formally legislated committee

This Study Committee is set up formally by the Amendment to the WSR Act that authorizes the Study.  The Committee must abide by all of the rules set forth under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (Public Law 92-463).  These Committees are reviewed by the Federal Government and need to be given the go ahead to meet.  Getting appointments to FACA committees may be more onerous that state or local meeting rules, and if someone resigns new appointees must go through the FACA process.  The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) gives the following overview to FACA.

FACA 101
Through enactment of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (Public Law 92-463), the U.S. Congress formally recognized the merits of seeking the advice and assistance of our nation's citizens to the executive branch of government. At the same time, the Congress also sought to assure that advisory committees:
Provide advice that is relevant, objective, and open to the public;
Act promptly to complete their work;
Comply with reasonable cost controls and record keeping requirements; and
Had government oversight through creation of the Committee Management Secretariat.
In 1976 the President assigned the Committee Management Secretariat to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). GSA’s role under FACA includes:
Conducting annual reviews of advisory committee accomplishments;
Responding to inquires from agencies on establishing new committees or the renewal of existing groups;
Preparing an annual report covering a summary of committee activities; and
Maintaining a FACA database from which advisory committee information may be obtained via the Internet.

 

From the final FACA rule, an example provided that is similar to post-designation advisory councils:
VI. Committees authorized by the Congress in law or by Presidential directive to perform primarily ‘‘operational’’ functions are not subject to
the Act. 102–3.40(k) 1. What characteristics are common to ‘‘operational committees?’’ 2. A committee created by the Congress by statute is
responsible, for example, for developing plans and events to commemorate the contributions of wildlife to the enjoyment of the Nation’s parks. Part of the committee’s role includes providing advice to certain Federal agencies as may be necessary to coordinate these events. Is this committee subject to FACA? A. In answer to question 1, non-advisory, or ‘‘operational’’ committees generally have the following characteristics: (i) Specific functions and/or authorities provided by the Congress in law or by Presidential directive; (ii) The ability to make and implement traditionally Governmental decisions; and (iii) The authority to perform specific tasks to implement a Federal program. B. Agencies are responsible for determining whether or not a committee primarily provides advice or recommendations and is, therefore, subject to the Act, or is primarily ‘‘operational’’ and not covered by FACA. C. The answer to question 2 is no. The committee is not subject to the Act because:
(i) Its functions are to plan and implement specific tasks; (ii) The committee has been granted the express authority by the Congress to perform its statutorily required functions; and (iii) Its incidental role of providing advice to other Federal agencies is secondary to its primarily
operational role of planning and implementing specific tasks and performing statutory functions. 
 

The Wekiva River in Florida was set up as a formally legislated committee.

 

Option 2: Informal Committee formed by the National Park Service

This Study Committee is set up by discussion and consensus at the local level and is not governed by FACA (based on the exemptions within the final FACA rule for "implementation committees" and since these Councils do not principally advise the NPS) unless the local Committee chooses to follow FACA guidelines.  The Study Committee may choose how to govern itself, who is a voting member of the Committee, and how information is shared in accordance with the Management Plan developed during the study.  The Farmington River in Connecticut and SuAsCo (Sudbury, Assabet and Concord Rivers) were set up as such Study Committees and staffed by an employee of the National Park Service.

Option 3: Informal formed by the local study sponsor

This Study Committee is set up by discussion and consensus at the local level and is not governed by FACA (based on the exemptions within the final FACA rule for "implementation committees" and since these Councils do not principally advise the NPSunless the local Committee chooses to follow FACA guidelines.  The Study Committee may choose how to govern itself, who is a voting member of the Committee, and how information is shared in accordance with the Management Plan developed during the study.  The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study Committee in Vermont was set up as such a Study Committee with locally hired staff.

Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study Committee Officers

Questions to ask about who should be on the Study Committee:
What local stakeholders (NGOs, businesses, tribal, landowners, etc) must be represented? -core study committee
     This may include the loudest nay-sayers, especially if there is misrepresentation of the facts about Wild and Scenic designation
What are the key local government units whose engagement in the Management Plan is critical? -core study committee
•What State agencies need to buy into the Management Plan? -core study committee

Study Committee Case Study:  Missisquoi and Trout Rivers, Vermont

The 2013 Management Plan for the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Study is a helpful resource if you are considering Option 3, an information Study Committee formed and staffed by the local study sponsor.  Page 1 of this Plan gives an overview of how the Study began and how the Committee was formed.  The Study Committee was comprised of voting representatives from the ten municipalities in the Study area that were voted onto the Committee by local Selectboards or Village Trustees, as well as partnership organizations, including the National Park Service (NPS) and the Missisquoi River Basin Association (study sponsor).  They began to meet regularly in October 2009 after the Study legislation was passed.  The goal of the Study Committee was to:

  • Determine whether the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers were eligible for designation
  • Determine whether there is local support for designation
  • Summarize their findings in a voluntary management plan which may be utilized regardless of designation, and with the maximum amount of local input.

Finding and maintaining Committee members continued throughout the Study process as new folks became interested, Selectboards voted in new representatives, partnership organizations appointed representatives or members moved on.  There was generally a group of committed volunteers that were the core of the Committee and present through the entire Study process until, and often after designation.

The Study Committee designed the following Mission Statement:

The Vermont Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild & Scenic Rivers Study Committee is formed of local appointees and partner organizations to evaluate Wild and Scenic Designation along the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers.
 
The group's mission is to facilitate the transfer of information between the ten communities the rivers run through, Berkshire, Town of Enosburgh, Village of Enosburg Falls, Jay, Lowell, Montgomery, Village of North Troy, Richford, Westfield, and the Town of Troy, and evaluate the potential benefits of the Wild & Scenic designation.  At the end of the Study in 2013, we will provide an accurate assessment as to whether the rivers fit designation criteria and whether designation is supported, and make recommendations of voluntary strategies for protection of the rivers’ resources.  Study Committee meetings are open to the public and driven by consensus. 
 

Meeting guidelines:

Once the Study Committee is formed, the Committee chooses officers including a Chair.  The Chair guides the Committee through the establishment of rules by which the Committee will be governed.  Keep in mind that the Study Committee is made up of the local stakeholders appointed by local governments in which the Study is occurring.  It’s a locally driven process, and may be flexible in order to meet the needs of each unique Study area.   Study Committees may choose to use a governing set of principles such as Robert’s Rules of Order, or may set up their own system as long as the system is made known and consistent.  Often that means operating by the State's open meeting laws.  The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Study Committee rotated its regular meetings, on the third Thursday of each month, among the ten towns and villages in the Study area.  All meetings were advertised, and open to the public.  A decision making policy for the Study Committee was adopted in March 2010, revised in September 2012, and adopted in October 2012 which confirms that the Study Committee meetings are run by consensus, and should a vote occur, each of the 10 municipalities will get one vote.  The majority of votes by the officially-appointed representatives will carry the decision. 

Here are example bylaws from three PWSR Committees.

 SuAsCo Strategic Planning Retreat
Sudbury, Assabet and Concord Rivers Strategic Panning Retreat

Goals:

The Study Committee set for itself the short-term goal of writing this Management Plan with the maximum amount of local input.  The long-term goal of the Study Committee is to encourage, through education and outreach, planning at the local, regional and state levels which utilize the information and voluntary recommendations outlined in the Management Plan regardless of the outcome of designation. 

Committee Setup:

In 2019 three new PWSRs are seeking tried and true models, practices, advice, and more to set up post-designation advisory and management councils.  The Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee (ERWSCC) model of standing subcommittees has been effective.  Patricia (Pat) Young, Program Director of the Eightmile River Watershed National Wild & Scenic Rivers Committee, provided the following subcommittee definitions.

The Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee also provided Committee Bylaws and their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Farmington River Coordinating Committee provided subcommittee goals and their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Hiring staff:

The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Study Committee advertised for the part-time position of Study Coordinator in 2009.  The Coordinator was hired by the Study sponsor, a local non-profit called the Missisquoi River Basin Association (MRBA).  The Study Coordinator had a contract that was renewed each year.

Workplan:

The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Study Committee set up a timeline for the Study which was revised each year, along with yearly work plans and annual reports.  The initial draft workplan was revised each year.  At the end of each year the work plan was reviewed, and a list of highlights of accomplishments was provided to the NPS.

Other examples of Study Committee documentation may be found on the websites of the WSRs currently under study including the York River.

Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Financial Assistance):

The Wild and Scenic Study is an example of the type of project funded by a NPS Cooperative Agreement.  This agreement is with a non-federal entity, typically a non-profit organization such as the study sponsor, to which the NPS provides financial assistance for the Study.   More information on Cooperative Agreements may be found on www.nps.gov or www.grants.govDirector’s Order #20  provides the directive for how the NPS enters into Cooperative AgreementsHere is a Cooperative Agreement for a Wild and Scenic River.  Generally post-Study surveys found that Committee members were happy with how the Study went, and the participation and assistance from the National Park Service.

NPS Budgeting:

According to nps.gov, the National Park Service develops a budget each February for the next fiscal year, which starts October 1.  The NPS budget—published in what they call the Green Book—defines goals and objectives and the funding necessary to accomplish them.  The NPS budget is rolled up into the budget for the Department of the Interior and then with the rest of the Executive Branch and submitted to Congress for its review and approval.

Here is the FY (Fiscal Year) 2017 NPS Greenbook.  These are all available online at nps.gov.
Here is the FY18 Greenbook section on PWSRs.

 

NPS Protections During Study:

During the Study, the river is protected under Section 7 of the Wild and Scenic Act. The intention of Section 7 of the Wild and Scenic Act is to protect the designated rivers from new federal projects which would adversely affect the free-flowing condition and outstandingly remarkable values for which rivers are designated.  This Section requires the evaluation of partially or fully federally funded or permitted construction and development water resource projects within the designated area.  This Section prevents licensing or exemption by FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) of new dams or hydropower facilities on or directly, negatively affecting the designated area; prevents federal projects which have a direct and adverse effect on the free-flowing nature, outstandingly remarkable values, or water quality of the designated area, and limits federal projects which would invade the designated area or unreasonably diminish the free-flowing nature, outstandingly remarkable values, or water quality of the designated area.  Though Section 7 is the regulatory arm of the Act, it applies only to specific federal projects and does not impact local zoning or the land use of private landowners as this remains governed by local and state laws regardless of designation. 

To demonstrate the types of letters that are produced from a Section 7 review, or review of dams/hydroelectric projects, please see these two letters the were written during the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Study in Vermont.  

More information about Section 7 of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act may be found in the implementation of designation  section of this Toolkit.

 

Study Committee Budget:

Once the Cooperative Agreement is signed, fund from the NPS may be transferred to the fiscal agent, typically a non-profit organization such as the study sponsor.  Then the Study Committee drafts and approves a budget for the year, and each subsequent year.

    

How do I write a Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP)?

The main job of the Study Committee is to write the Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP).  Examples of PWSR plans may be found on the rivers.gov website and searching by state, or by clicking on the PWSR links.

Generally, this plan and the work of the Committee is to answer 4 key questions:
  1. What are our flowing river's outstanding values, and do the identified river values pass the “straight face test” of significance?
  2. Who are the local partners and stakeholders and what is their standing in the communities under Study?  
  3. Can you get letters of support from local governments and partners to demonstrate community support for the management plan and its recommendations?
  4. Are Congressional offices engaged and willing to support the management plan and its recommendations?  Look for models below for answering these questions.

This work on a PWSR is unique, because it requires outreach, education, support and participation from the local communities, stakeholders and landowners and it is a process that is locally driven by the locally appointed Study Committee with the assistance of the NPS.  LOCAL control, and LIMITED federal role.  The Study Committee work can be done as a whole committee or with subcommittees.  The plan can be written by one leader or staff member with community input and review, or written by multiple authors or subcommittees.  Exploring the designated PWSR websites can help you determine what model may work best for your Committee.  Page 1 of the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Management Plan gives a good examples overview of the process.

The Comprehensive River Management Plan is community document that is written by the Study Committee and may be used regardless of designation; the Study Report and Environmental Assessment is a National Park Service document that includes recommendations on whether or not NPS supports designation.  These documents are developed together with information gathered during the Study and with input from the public.  Local ownership of Management Plan is a key component of Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Here are some links to PWSR Management Plans; more are available on the NPS website.  There is no substitute for reviewing the full management plans and environmental assessments published by the Study Committees for these rivers.  More information is in those plans than can be reproduced in this Toolkit.

Nashua River, Massachusetts 
Wekiva River, Florida 
York River, Maine and here is a Story Map for their stewardship plan 
Management Plan development is throughout the Wild and Scenic Study.  It gets developed with the following in mind.
•The Management Plan is a local document, and it may be used regardless of designation
•It includes research on outstanding river resources (ORVs) and requires community engagement
•It contains what local people value about the river, and those values may or may not be ORVs.
•It is an expression of local value and commitment to river
•The plan is written by the Study Committee however they see fit
The Study Committee may form Management Plan Subcommittee to write planm or subcommittees to research and write certain sections of the Plan
•Study Committee representatives from each municipality interface with town boards, stakeholders, etc.
•Outreach and education is key throughout the Plan development
•“Workshops” good tool to review ORV research with local stakeholders and to get input on the Plan, research and studies on each of these areas may be commissioned
Research on PWSRs

How do I determine if my river is eligible for designation? 

              Is your river free flowing?

1.  What are our flowing river's outstanding values or ORVs?

To be eligible as a Wild and Scenic River the river must be free-flowing and have at least one river resource called an Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV).  Free-flowing river segments are those that do not have an impoundment even if impoundments occur upstream or downstream.  ORVs are those locally recognized values which are river-related and unique, rare, or exemplary features that are significant at a comparative regional or national scale.  A river or river segment can be considered for designation if it is above or below a dam or is dependent on releases from a dam. Any section of river with flowing water, even if impounded upstream meets the definition of free‐flowing, as long as existing flows are sufficient to support flow‐dependent ORVs and water quality.  Here is an ORV fact sheet from the NPS.

See the  section of this Toolkit for a more thorough discussion of classification; however, the level of human influence, including impoundments, is detailed when each segment of a Wild and Scenic River is classified.
Wild River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.
Scenic River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
Recreational River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past (more information may be found at www.rivers.gov).
 

The eligibility analysis consists of an examination of the river’s hydrology, including any man-made alterations, and an inventory of its natural, cultural, and recreational resources.

Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) can fall under many categories as Denielle Perry's figure, below, from 2017 demonstrates.

DeniellePerryORVList

 The York River, Maine, recently published their Management (Stewardship) Plan with the following ORVs identified:

York River ORVs

The Stewardship Plan is a voluntary guidance document intended to support and help facilitate the work of communities, conservation organizations, community groups and individuals interested in the longterm protection of the York River and its watershed resources. Wide-ranging strategies and opportunities to protect or enhance key resources and values are identified. Recommended actions in the Stewardship Plan were developed to protect and enhance the water quality, ecology, historic resources, scenic qualities, and cultural resources that collectively contribute to the region’s special character and identity. Implementation of key actions is not mandatory.

The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study, VT, identified ORVs in the Scenic, Natural Resource, and Historic and Cultural Categories, with water quality supporting them all.  

Eligibility:  ORV highlight, Historic and Cultural Resources

To identify cultural ORVs, consider the people who have depended upon the river and the related notable or significant historic and pre-contact features or attractions within the region. The following general criteria require considerable judgment by technical specialists with in-depth knowledge of the designated river. The elements described in this section have been identified separately as historic and cultural for many rivers; however, best practice is to group these resources together as cultural ORVs, consistent with preferred NPS terminology.  The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study Committee combed through archives of historic and cultural resources.  In their Management Plan they state:
Covered bridges are a sought-after recreational attraction for people interested in cultural heritage and scenic beauty.  Early settlers in the Study area were fortunate to have ample forest and farm land, as well as plentiful running water, to power mills and transport forest products.  The waterways created a separate challenge for overland travel; a growing economy and an abundance of rivers and streams in the area created the need for many bridges. The bridges were built with roofs to shield them from the elements – rain, ice, and lots of snow.  Twelve covered bridges were built in the Town of Montgomery alone, all by the same builders – the Jewett brothers.  These bridges are so important that Montgomery’s 2010 Town Plan stated a vision for the future of Montgomery was to “maintain and preserve Montgomery’s six covered bridges, for they represent our community’s history and an appreciation of Vermont’s cultural heritage.”  By 1940, there were 13 bridges in Montgomery.  The president of the Montgomery Historical Society, Scott Perry, states that these bridges were often built to provide access to more trees for harvest.  Six of these covered bridges are still in use today and one (Hectorville Bridge, from Gibou Road) is currently in off-site storage awaiting repair.  This represents the most covered bridges within one Town in the country.  The six Montgomery bridges, as well as one in Troy and another in Enosburgh, are popular destinations for sightseers and bring many tourists to the area.  These bridges add to the unique local character and quaint New England Charm of the Study towns.   All of these covered bridges were listed on the National Register of Historic Places between November 1974 and December 1974.  As such, these bridges are recognized as significant at the community, state, and national level and are thus considered cultural ORVs of the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers.
Montgomery Historical Society Covered Bridges

The Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI) may be a useful resource.  Though this list is by no means exhaustive, river segments in the NRI may be eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation as they have been found to be free-flowing and have one or more outstandingly remarkable value (ORV).  They are mapped and described in the NRI.  Also available is the National Rivers Project which provides river recreation and management information.  This project is mapped in the National River Recreation Database.

Check out PWSR management plans online for more information about identifying ORVs.

How do I determine if my river is suitable for designation? 
2.    Who are the local partners and stakeholders and what is their standing in the communities under Study
3.    Can you get letters of support from local governments and organizations to demonstrate community support for the management plan and its recommendations?

 

This step provides the basis for:  determining which rivers should be recommended for addition to the National System and a Federal Agency’s recommendation to Congress.  Suitability is answered by identifying the local support and protections for the rivers, and whether or not the communities under study support the management plan and its recommendations.  Community support for designation is key to the suitability of the PWSRs.  Community support may be shown in several different ways depending on the local governance in the communities under which designation is being studied.

Suitability of WSR

Outreach and education about Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Management Plan (including development and identification of outstanding resources) and the Study Committee recommendations for designation are key throughout the Study.  Here is an abbreviated list of some of the outreach from the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Study.  A regularly updated website, meetings rotating through the municipalities, newsletters, postcards to all riverfront land owners, postcards to voters in the municipalities under study, a VTWSR video, river cleanups, film festival, newspaper articles, and the Management Plan and Congressional Study Report and Environmental Assessment are some of the outreach activities used by the Study Committee.  Support letters, town resolutions, letters from local, NGO, State agencies and our Congressional Representatives and Senators may be also found in these appendices.

It is imperative to identify misinformation in your community and work to provide outreach to correct it, and also to go to meet with organizations and individuals that may be wary of federal designation from the beginning and throughout the Study process.  Going to meet with individuals and organizations with someone that they know, or at least with the Study Committee appointee from their municipality goes a long way.  Many websites have FAQs and information regarding wild and scenic designation.  Here are a few.

National Park Service FAQs
Upper Missisquoi and Trout River Wild and Scenic appendices and FAQs
Wood-Pawcatuck FAQs
York River FAQs

 

Typically as ORVs are identified, the Study Committee is also researching state, local and federal protections for those ORVs.  These are all cataloged in the Environmental Assessment that goes to Congress.  See Chapter 4 of the VTWSR  Environmental Assessment for details on suitability of each ORV identified

Some of the key figures produced include:

Zoning information by municipality for water quality.

Groups working on water quality and agriculture in the watershed.  The Study should demonstrated the protections already in place for the ORVs identified, and demonstrate community support for their protection.

Suitability:  ORV highlight, Historic and Cultural Resources

Historic and Cultural Protections
Federal
The National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.  Historic sites may be entered in the National Historic Register after nominations are submitted by historians and/or archaeologists, usually employed by the property owner.  In Vermont, the nominations are generally cooperatively prepared with the State Division for Historic Preservation.  In the towns where nominations are being prepared, planning commissions and property owners are given the opportunity to support or reject listing in the National Register.  Nominations are reviewed by the Vermont Advisory Council on Historic Preservation before they are submitted to the National Park Service, which oversees the National Registry and makes the final determination regarding the site’s inclusion in the National Register. 
Regional
The Northwest Regional Planning Commission’s (NRPC) Regional Plan for 2007-2012 states that “Historic structures, community facilities, and other buildings should be preserved and adapted for re-use.”  They also suggest utilizing federal, state, and local programs for developing or preserving local cultural and historic assets. 
The Northeastern Vermont Development Association’s (NVDA) Regional Plan (2006) suggests a 200 foot buffer to protect archaeologically significant areas found along the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers.  Goals in this Plan include preserving important historical structures and mapping potential archaeological sites.
State
The State of Vermont intends that municipalities, regional planning commissions and State agencies continue to identify, protect and preserve important natural and historic features of the Vermont landscape, including important historic structures, sites, or districts, archaeological sites and archaeologically sensitive areas (24A V.S.A. § 4412).  The placement of wireless telecommunication towers is also restricted when the facility may adversely impact an historic site (24 V.S.A. § 2291).
The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation reviews and comments on projects involving State funding, licenses or permits under The Vermont Historic Preservation Act (22 V.S.A. Chapter 14).   This review looks at possible negative impacts on historic resources including those sites listed on the Vermont Register of Historic Places and any potentially historically, architecturally, archeologically or culturally significant sites. 
Local
Montgomery
The following information is listed in the Town of Montgomery’s Town Zoning Bylaws:
With regard to telecommunication tower placement:   6.6.3 Additionally, freestanding telecommunications towers or antennas over 20 feet in elevation may not be located in any of the following locations:  6.6.3.3 Within 500 ft. horizontally from any Historic District or property eligible to be listed on the Federal Historic Register.  6.6.3.7 Within 1 ~ x height horizontally of any known archeological site.  6.12 Tower and Antenna Design Requirements: Proposed facilities shall not unreasonably interfere with the view from any public park, natural scenic vista, historic building or district, or major view corridor. 
The Montgomery Town Plan (amended and updated 8/2010) also sets forth the goal to recognize the role of Montgomery’s archeological, historic, and scenic resources in shaping the Town’s present quality of life and future opportunities.
    

Ways to show community support 

This question, demonstrating local support for river protection and national designation, is perhaps one of the most time-consuming parts of a Partnership Wild and Scenic Study.  If a river under Study runs through predominantly federal lands, the federal managing agency may decide in-house whether or not they support designation for the river, and then write this decision into the Study Report.  In a Partnership Wild and Scenic River much of the education and outreach during the Study revolves around what designation is and combating misconceptions around the Wild and Scenic Act so that community members may make an informed decision regarding designation.  The National Park Service traditionally does not seek designation without the support of the local communities through which the rivers flow.  In New England, where most of the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers are designated, Study Committees have  for designation in two ways:

  1. Through a vote of the governing body of the municipality (a Town or City Council, Selectboard, etc.).  Designation and the Management Plan written during the Study are voted on by this governing body, and the National Park Service, or other advisory agency, utilizes the input from this vote to inform whether or not the rivers are suitable for designation
  2. Through a vote of the eligible voters in the municipality (an item on a local ballot or warrant article at a Town Meeting).   Designation and the Management Plan written during the Study are voted on by anyone who participates in the election or Town Meeting for which designation is on the ballot, and the National Park Service, or other advisory agency, utilizes the input from this vote to inform whether or not the rivers are suitable for designation. 

A key factor in success is determining early what the standard of local support will be, and making sure that your education and outreach is tailored toward the eventual vote.  Here is an example of a letter from the Town Clerk of a munincipality on the Nashua River, NH.

 NashuaWSRSupportTownClerk

Municipalities in the Study area must show support for the Management Plan and any recommendations for designation before the National Park Service will consider the rivers suitable for WSR designation.  The plan and recommendations for designation may be voted on in one resolution or separated. 

The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study was encouraged by the NPS to include the broad participation of local stakeholders in the Study process and spent substantial time and effort considering and explaining the effects of the designation. The Study partners became well acquainted with the effects of designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act during the Study process.  The Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers model was established for designation and management for those rivers predominantly in private, municipal or state, as opposed to federal, ownership.  The Partnership Rivers in New England demonstrate the potential effects of designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and thoroughly exploring the other nearby rivers designated under this model was part of the Study process.  Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers model features include:
» no reliance on federal land ownership or management
» reliance on local and state regulations and management as before designation
» administration and implementation of a locally led Management Plan facilitated by a locally appointed, broadly participatory Wild and Scenic Committee, convened for each river specifically for this purpose
» responsibility for management of river resources shared between the local, state, and federal partners on the Committee
» requires no establishment of a National Park or superintendent or law enforcement agent from the National Park Service
» does not require purchase or transfer of lands to the NPS
» succeeds through voluntary education, outreach, management efforts and local support.
These principles are included in the examples of warrant articles and legislation found below.  
Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers, VT
Town Meeting warrant article:  To see if the voters of the Town of insert town name will petition the Congress of the United States of America that the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers be designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers with the understanding that such designation would be based on the locally‐developed rivers Management Plan and would not involve federal acquisition or management of lands.
VT designation legislation
Enabling Legislation for the Lamprey River, NH
There is a fair amount of variability in the legislation proposed for a municipal vote.  It is important to educate voters in order to prepare them to make an informed vote on the recommendations of the Study Committee (the management plan and recommendations for designation).  See the FAQs above for some of the Questions and Answers on Wild and Scenic designation.  More legislation may be found on rivers.gov.
What if municipalities vote no?
•Opportunities are always available for municipalities to reconsider later.  Perhaps a better education effort is needed, or perhaps some municipalities wish to wait and see how designation plays out in surrounding communities before reconsidering.
•Typically the door is always left open for “no” votes to join later if they wish, but this will require acts of the U.S. Congress.
Here is a summary of suitability findings from the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study Report and Environmental Assessment, Chapter 4.
Summary of General Findings on Suitability
Analysis of existing local, state, federal, and non-regulatory protections applicable to the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers are found to adequately protect the rivers and to be consistent with the purposes of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  These protections, combined with local support for river preservation, provide substantial protection to the rivers and their adjacent lands. When combined with the protections that would be provided through the Wild and Scenic Rivers designation, the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers’ Outstandingly Remarkable Values, free-flowing character, and water quality would be adequately protected without the need for federal land acquisition or federal land ownership and management.
 
This finding is consistent with similar findings that have been made for each of the existing Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers, whereby the designating legislation for each of those rivers has prohibited the federal condemnation of lands, as provided for by Section 6(c) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  It is anticipated that any designating legislation for the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers will likewise include such provisions.  The Management Plan has been developed with input from and to meet the needs of local, state, and federal stakeholders.  It has been endorsed as the Management Plan for the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers by the voters in Berkshire, Town of Enosburgh, Village of Enosburg Falls, Montgomery, Village of North Troy, Richford, the Town of Troy, and Westfield. 
 
The Management Plan would be utilized as the “Comprehensive Management Plan” called for by Section 3(d) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act should the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers be designated as components of the national system.  The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Management Plan, as implemented by the future Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Committee provides an appropriate and effective management framework for the long-term management and protection of the watercourses.  It is concluded that there is sufficient support to make the rivers suitable for designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act based on the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers model.

 

On October 18, 2012, the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Study Committee voting members present unanimously voted in favor of recommending the designation of the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System for the reaches located within the Study area towns.  The Committee believes that designation as a Partnership Wild and Scenic River, based on implementation of the Management Plan through a locally-based committee (like the Study Committee), can be an important contributor to our rivers and our communities.  This Partnership approach has proven successful in our neighboring New England states and we have seen no evidence of an unwanted or heavy federal presence.  The Study Committee’s recommendation in favor of designation and supporting this Management Plan was presented in an article at town meeting in nine Study municipalities in March 2013 following a public comment period, in the fall of 2012, on this Management Plan.  This article is as follows:

To see if the voters of the Town of X will petition the Congress of the United States of America that the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers be designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers with the understanding that such designation would be based on the locally-developed rivers Management Plan and would not involve federal acquisition or management of lands.

Favorable votes occurred in all but one municipality.  This demonstrated local support for designation prior to further action by Congress with the intention that designation would not bring additional federal acquisition or management of lands.  Following town meetings, the Study Committee and the National Park Service will drafted a report to Congress that documents the eligibility and suitability of the designation of the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers as part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.  Designation occurred December 12, 2014 when Congress enacted a bill amending the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to add the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers into the System which was then signed into law by the President.  More on the Missisquoi Study may be found here.

4.  Are Congressional offices engaged and willing to support the management plan and its recommendations? 

The Comprehensive River Management Plan is community document that is written by the Study Committee and may be used regardless of designation; the Study Report and Environmental Assessment is a National Park Service document that includes recommendations on whether or not NPS supports designation.  This Study Report is the report to Congress and informs their vote on any proposed legislation.  These documents are developed together with information gathered during the Study and with input from the public.  Local ownership of Management Plan is a key component of Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers.  All the PWSRs that have been studied have Environmental Assessments and Study Reports that have been submitted to Congress.  These are the recommendations of the Study Committee (through the Management Plan) and the Environmental Assessment of the NPS (or federal WSR agency) regarding recommendation for designation.  Here are examples of Study Reports; more may be found on individual PWSR committee websites and on rivers.gov.

Eightmile River,Connecticut
Lamprey River, New Hampshire

 

Congress could…
•Write their own river management plan at the same time the study is being conducted
•Involve a federal advisory committee in the Study
•Designate a river without even authorizing a study
•Designate a different segment from that recommended
Because of this, your congressional Representatives (sponsors) and Senators will be your advocates in Congress.  It is very important to stay on the same page with them and their staff so that any legislation passed and action taken is supported by your communities and Study Committee.

 

The deliverables from  a Partnership Wild and Scenic Study are ultimately the Management Plan that may be used regardless of designation, and the Study Report and Environmental Assessment that the federal advisory agency (NPS) presents to Congress to conclude the Study.  Should designation be desired, moving a bill through Congress can be a long process, and Committees should be prepared to sustain themselves for a while once designation legislation is introduced.  The more that your Congressional Representatives and Senators are on board with you and advocate for you in Congress, the more likely your legislation is to pass.  PWSR post-designation advisory committees are a good source of information and guidance through this process.

If Congress amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to include your river and the President signs that bill into law then your river is designated as a national Wild and Scenic River!  Check out the implementation of designation section (by clicking on Designate below) to find out more about what happens once your river is designated.