Wild and Scenic Rivers Stewardship Partnership Funding Awards
Wild and Scenic Rivers flow throughout the country. This designation helps protect some of the nation’s free-flowing rivers providing opportunities for recreation, protecting drinking water, and helping fuel local economies. However, the Wild and Scenic Rivers designation doesn’t translate into full protection; many of these rivers suffer from the same threats as other rivers including: erosion and sedimentation from overuse on local trails, invasive plant species, and trash and graffiti.
Following on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) was looking for ways to build on some of the strong collaboration between USFS staff and local groups to engage community members in protecting and restoring these rivers. As a result, with funding from USFS, River Network was able to offer Wild and Scenic River Stewardship Partnership project funding for the first time. To qualify, projects had to take a shared stewardship approach on rivers administered by USFS. Review criteria included:
- What will be accomplished and how the project furthers the values of Wild and Scenic Rivers
- The number of people engaged, with an emphasis on reaching communities new to Wild and Scenic Rivers
- How the project provided benefits to both rivers and people
- Support from the District Ranger or Forest Supervisor
We received so many high-quality project proposals – many more than we were able to fund. As USFS Wild and Scenic Rivers National Program Manager Steve Chesterton said, “the interest in this new partnership program between River Network and the Forest Service has been phenomenal. It’s very encouraging to see the wide variety of strong proposals submitted by organizations from around the country.”
We’re excited to announce the following grant recipients and a snapshot of their projects:
- Chattooga Conservancy will increase public awareness and involvement to address threats to the Chattooga River in Georgia and South Carolina through water quality monitoring, educational outreach, and managing invasive species.
- Glacier Peak Institute is introducing and connecting kids from rural and mostly low-income backgrounds in Darrington, WA, to the Sauk and Skagit Rivers though STEM education and time on the river.
- Illinois Valley Watershed Council will expand their community engagement program through restoration and education events with a focus on resource-limited, low-income community members to increase stewardship of Oregon’s Illinois River.
- Kern River Conservancy in California is creating and implementing an education awareness platform for responsible public land use and native trout preservation.
- Native Expeditions is working to develop youth watershed leaders to steward Arkansas’s Mulberry River through community water science and leave no trace awareness.
- New Mexico Wild is undertaking invasive species monitoring along the Rio Chama while also engaging local, diverse youth in Wild and Scenic River ecosystem education and conservation.
- Snake River Fund will use funds to improve the visitor experience along a highly used path to the Snake River in Jackson Hole, WY, through trail restoration and educational signage.
“These types of shared stewardship projects between local groups and national forests are critical to fostering relationships that ensure the continued protection and enhancement of wild and scenic rivers,” said Chesterton.
At River Network, we’re thrilled to see projects like these that connect people and rivers and help steward these places into the future.