Geothermal/Wild and Scenic Rivers

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Geothermal Wild and Scenic Rivers

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) (P.L. 90-542; 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) created the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System to mandate that, “certain selected rivers of the Nation with their immediate environments, that possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.” River classification merely “protects and enhances” river attributes and limits how much private land the federal government can acquire. There is a purposeful balance between permanent river protection and dam development. Valid water rights remain unaffected.

River classifications include:

  • Wild: These rivers or river sections are untrammeled by man meaning that neither pollution nor human interaction taints the watershed quality. Shorelines are undeveloped and remain pristine. No trail access exists.
  • Scenic: These rivers or river sections are equivalent to “wild” rivers, however, scenic rivers can be accessed by a trail or road.
  • Recreational: These rivers or river sections have road access, shoreline development and some water diversion evidence.

National Wild and Scenic Rivers System-About

Wild and Scenic Rivers Impacts & Mitigation

Geothermal development is allowed on wild and scenic river lands if the project does not disturb riverbeds or banks. Regular lease and permit procedures apply. If the project will incur direct adverse impacts on or near a tributary, riverbed or riverbank, the project cannot proceed.