Congresswoman McCollum Celebrates the 45th Anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

Mar 3, 2014 Issues: Environment

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to honor the passage of the 1968 National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, signed into law 45 years ago by President Lyndon Johnson. This landmark legislation has resulted in the protection of more than 100 rivers, including Minnesota's Saint Croix River. Across the country, these beautiful riverways cross many political boundaries and state boarders, uniting Americans in appreciation of our natural heritage.

As a Senator, Minnesota's own Walter Mondale joined Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson to sponsor the Act, and include the Saint Croix River as one of the eight original rivers designated as a Wild and Scenic Riverway. Creation of the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway recognized the largest scenic riverway east of the Mississippi River and helped protect its nationally renowned fishery.

Once the epicenter of the American logging industry and a busy corridor of commerce, the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway is now a testament to the rugged beauty that was home to Native Americans for millennia, and that greeted early European visitors who followed them. Under the wise stewardship of the National Park Service in partnership with more than 1,000 private land owners, 252 miles of the Saint Croix River watershed from the Namekagon in Wisconsin, its largest tributary, to the Mississippi confluence are protected from logging, invasive development and industry. Tens of thousands of visitors have benefited from the river's national protection and enjoy its natural beauty; future generations will be able to appreciate its natural splendor.

Today, 45 years after passage of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the legacy forged by Senators Mondale and Nelson has grown from the original eight rivers to 150 Wild and Scenic Rivers. This designation protects these rivers and the outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act has safeguarded the special character of our most precious rivers and helped lead to further protection of our valuable natural resources, including passage of the Clean Water Act of 1973.

Despite the passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, these national treasures are under constant threat from modern development and misuse. In Congress, it is my priority to protect and strengthen our Wild and Scenic Rivers, including the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, for our children and grandchildren.

Mr. Speaker, in honor of the 45th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, it is my pleasure to commend all who have made the Act a success, including Vice President Mondale, the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, National Park Service staff, private land owners, and countless volunteers who are dedicated to keeping these beautiful riverways wild and scenic.