May the terminus (beginning or end point) of a wild and scenic river be clarified?

Yes. While Congress specifies the termini of a designated river, in some instances congressional language may require interpretation. For example, a terminus described as “from the dam” could be interpreted as including the dam and dam-related facilities. However, to allow for continued dam maintenance, it may be appropriate to establish the boundary a very short distance below the dam or, through specific language, to exclude appurtenant facilities.

The river administrator is well advised to consider on-the-ground practicalities at the initial boundary setting stage, to the extent congressional language allows for it. Qualifying the terminus to fit on-the-ground circumstances does not require amendment of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act (i.e., it would not change the description of a river’s terminus in Section 3(a) of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act). Clarifying a terminus must be carefully considered so as not to change the intent of Congress. Such consideration should include review of the legislative history, including any maps developed in the study process or as a part of the legislation, and full disclosure through a public process prior to clarifying a terminus.

Interagency Wild & Scenic Rivers Council