5,000 Miles of Wild

3 Min. Read

“Every individual and every family should get to know at least one river.”

~President Lyndon Johnson upon signing the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968

In October of 1968, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act pronounced:

“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

For nearly 50 years, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act has been one of the strongest tools available to protect outstanding, free-flowing rivers. Since its passage, local communities, American Rivers, and partners across the United States have utilized this vital tool to safeguard more than 12,000 miles of free-flowing Wild and Scenic Rivers. Even with this strong effort, less than one percent of America’s Rivers remain wild and free from dams and development.

It’s up to us to chart a new path for our rivers and establish a legacy for the next 50 years of Wild and Scenic Rivers—one we can all be proud of. Wild and Scenic rivers, bound together by their pristine nature and the benefits they provide fish, wildlife and people, represent one of the most valuable unspoiled environments left in the United States.

So why do we need Wild and Scenic-protected rivers? In short: They give us life. Wild, natural rivers provide clean water for a nation. Their waters irrigate farms and feed Americans throughout the country, sustain wildlife, and the communities we live in.  And more than anything, rivers connect us. Rushing from their headwaters, rivers run like arteries linking and sustaining communities in remote and rural towns to bustling cities—crossing county, state, and international borders.

In an effort to celebrate the 50th Anniversary, over the next five years, American Rivers is working to protect 5,000 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers and one million acres of riverside land.

“This is our heritage. These are the rivers that define us. And together, we have a responsibility to protect them for our children. Americans need to make it clear to the President and Congress that protecting our last, best free-flowing rivers must be a national priority,” Amy Kober, National Communications Director of American Rivers said.

In addition to the powerful conservation goal, American Rivers and brand partners, including NRS, YETI, and OARS, have launched the 5,000 Miles of Wild campaign: embarking on a mission to tell the stories of America’s rivers and the people who love them—from whitewater boaters and avid anglers, to families and urban dwellers who enjoy backyard escapes.

Storytelling is hardwired into the human fabric. Digital and social media provides us with a national, virtual campfire and we have never been better poised to share the story of our lives, our rivers and our hopes for the future. These are the stories that spark a national conversation, and the stories that inspire people to act. These are the stories that empower, provide a connection and weave a common thread.

“By collecting personal stories from people across America, we will show how rivers connect all of us and send one clear and unified message to our elected leaders: our rivers are worth saving,” Amy said. “Our aim is to recruit, engage and empower a lasting army of people speaking up to protect our rivers and clean water.”

Take action and share your story at 5000miles.org.

Emily Nuchols

Emily Nuchols is a writer and the founder of Under Solen, a communications consulting firm with a cause. A fierce advocate, Emily firmly believes in celebrating every win—large and small—and that it is entirely possible to change the world one party at a time. She’s been a friend and partner of OARS since 2015.

Read Bio

Sign up for Our Newsletter

Compare Adventures

Select up to 3 trips to compare