Americans love their rivers. That much was obvious to us during the 51 public listening sessions across the country. With many towns located along a river, rivers offer a close-to-home opportunity for millions of Americans to connect to the great outdoors. Consequently, we have emphasized river restoration and recreation to help assist and empower local communities in reaping the benefits of a healthy river. Through AGO's work, Americans can experience our nation's treasured legacy of rivers and waterways.


Androscoggin RiverAGO's River Initiative has a three-pronged strategy for promoting and improving river conservation and recreation. We aim to show the way by demonstrating successful and innovative approaches to river conservation; make it easier by providing tools and services that improve the planning and implementation of river projects; and inspire involvement by highlighting diverse examples of river conservation and recreation projects.

In light of these actions and goals, the River Initiative supports two conservation and recreational opportunities:

  1. National Water Trails System: a network of Secretarially-designated rivers that increase access to water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship of local waterways, and provide mutual support and knowledge-sharing
  2. All American River Demonstration Projects: 51 river conservation and recreation projects - one per state and the District of Columbia - that are models of river restoration and recreational access

    Tools & Resources
    an online inventory of federal resources that support local river restoration and recreation projects, including a GIS-enabled river atlas



7/25/12: Tennessee's Harpeth River Dam Demolition

Low Head Dam on Harpeth River

With the removal of a low dam on the mainstem of Tennessee's Harpeth River, the 125-mile River will become one of the few completely free-flowing rivers in the state. The dam's removal kicks off another phase in the Harpeth River Restoration Project, one of the 51 projects in the America's Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative. Once completed, the reconnected and free-flowing Harpeth River will improve fish habitat, enable more than 50 species of fish to freely move along the entire river, increase the number of public access points along the river for fishing and boating, and stabilize eroding river banks to improve water quality. The project is also a model of the application of modern technologies that enable water withdrawals for utility purposes, while also improving water quality and maintaining natural river flows for fish and wildlife. For more information, and to view the Harpeth River "Dam Cam," click here

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