How much land can be purchased for a wild and scenic river?

Section 6(a)(1) of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act states:

The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture are each authorized to acquire lands and interests in land within the authorized boundaries of any component of the national wild and scenic rivers system designated in Section 3 of this act . . . but he shall not acquire fee title to an average of more than 100 acres per mile on both sides of the rivers.

The Wild & Scenic Rivers Act authorizes fee title acquisition to the equivalent of about a 400 foot wide strip of land along both sides of a wild and scenic river. In practice, however, the acreage allowance can be applied anywhere within the river’s boundaries. Nothing in the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act precludes the acquisition of lands using other federal authorities or laws, e.g., the authority of the National Park Service to acquire land within the boundary of a national park or that of the U.S. Forest Service to acquire land within the boundaries of a national forest, if the river is located within these boundaries.

If 50 percent or more of the river corridor acreage is in public ownership (federal, state, local), this acquisition can only be on a willing seller-willing buyer basis.

Interagency Wild & Scenic Rivers Council