Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 USC 1271-1287) establishes a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System that protects selected rivers based on their “outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values”. The law is regulated by the U.S. Forest Service through regulations at 36 CFR 297.

When It Is Required

Federal actions that propose to affect Wild and Scenic Rivers must apply to the Secretary of the Interior for a determination in accordance with Section 7 of the Act. However, there are no Wild and Scenic Rivers designated in Vermont. The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers are currently under study for Wild and Scenic River designation.

Permit Process

In states where Wild and Scenic Rivers have been designated, the federal agency sponsoring the proposed action submits a notice of intent to the National Forest Service that includes:

(1) Name and location of affected river;

(2) Location of the project;

(3) Nature of the permit or other authorization proposed for issuance;

(4) A description of the proposed activity; and

(5) Any relevant information, such as plans, maps, and environmental studies, assessments, or environmental impact statements.

The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture then makes a finding as to whether the proposed project will create an adverse effect to the values for which it was designated Wild and Scenic. If such effects are identified, the Secretary may recommend measures to eliminate adverse effects and the authorizing agency may submit revised plans.

Related Regulations

Regulatory programs with overlapping jurisdiction with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

Vermont Stream Alteration Permit Program: The Stream Alteration program regulates the alteration of perennial streams and rivers in Vermont.

For More Information


Forest Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

P.O. Box 2417, Washington, DC 20013

National Wild and Scenic Rivers System


Vermont Wild and Scenic Rivers Study – Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers (website)