The Selawik River designation extends from its headwaters to its confluence with the Kugarak River. The river is notable in its remoteness, even in a region as undeveloped as Alaska’s northwest Arctic. Access is difficult, and human activity is minimal. The lowest stretch of the river can be reached by small motorized boats, but most of the river is only accessible by snow machine in winter or by non-motorized watercraft launched from limited aircraft landing sites in summer. The Selawik River starts in upland terrain at the far edge of the boreal forest with relatively swift, clear water and a gravel substrate, then gradually transitions to a shrub and tundra environment with slow, tannic water and a silt substrate.
December 2, 1980. The segment from a fork of the headwaters in T12N, R10E, Kateel River meridian, to the confluence of the Kugarak River within the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is currently working to identify the "outstandingly remarkable values" of the river. Preliminarily, through Comprehensive Conservation Plans and additional agency reviews, the USFWS has found the following draft ORVs to be present on the river: recreation, geology, fish, wildlife, cultural, and subsistence. A process is underway to include public involvement in formally identifying and describing ORVs for this river. Ongoing planning efforts may further identify or clarify outstandingly remarkable values on this river.