Have you ever heard of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act? Don’t blush if you haven’t. As much as I’ve been in conservation circles over the last 30 years, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard this, either.
According to the Department of Energy, “The National Wild & Scenic Rivers System was enacted by U.S. Congress to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”
The law was signed in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson. So, much like the national park system, wild and scenic rivers are congressionally designated and protected.
Only one-fourth of 1 percent of all of America’s rivers are protected under the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. Of the eight rivers designated as part of the original act, one is in Missouri, the Eleven Point River. The Eleven Point was noted for its outstanding remarkable values: scenic, wildlife, historic, geologic, fish and recreation.
Who takes care of these special rivers? Four federal agencies collaborate to manage these resources – the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, along with thousands of local volunteers throughout the country.
Interestingly, World Rivers Day is held in September as a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.
“Rivers are the arteries of our planet; they are lifelines in the truest sense.” – Mark Angelo, founder of World Rivers Day.
To celebrate rivers and World Rivers Day, the Blue River Watershed Association, a local nonprofit organization that provides environmental education to schools and communities throughout the metro area, is hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. This is a collection of short, independently produced films on rivers and other outdoor adventures. The photography is amazing, and the stories are memorable. To be perfectly transparent, this is my day job. The film festival is one of my favorite things that we do!
There are two showings:
• 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
• 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the Glenwood Arts, 3707 W. 95th St., Overland Park, Kan.
Tickets may be bought online at www.brwa.net for $10. The first 10 who email me will get a free ticket to the venue of their choice.
Hope to see you there!
Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. Reach her at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.