How are rivers designated?

There are two ways rivers are designated in the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System:

  • By Act of Congress
    This requires legislation to amend Section 3(a) of the Act.  Rivers designated by Congress are listed in Section 3(a) of the Act.
  • By the Secretary of the Interior
    This requires a governor to apply to the Secretary of the Interior under Section 2(a)(ii) of the Act. If found eligible, and sufficient protection is afforded by the state (including designation in a state river system by the legislature of the state), the Secretary may designate a river. Applications by the states are evaluated and processed by the NPS. Rivers designated under Section 2(a)(ii) are listed in the Council’s River Mileage Classifications for Components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System table.
Interagency Wild & Scenic Rivers Council