A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
New National Water Trails System to Promote Healthy, Accessible Rivers
Atlanta's Chattahoochee River to become first national water trail of its kind
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today unveiled the National Water Trails System, a new network that will increase access to water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship of local waterways, and promote tourism that fuels local economies across America.
Today's announcement comes in advance of Friday's White House Conference on Conservation hosted by the Department of the Interior. The conference will spotlight community-driven conservation efforts as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative.
“Rivers, lakes, and other waterways are the lifeblood of our communities, connecting us to our environment, our culture, our economy, and our way of life,” Salazar said. “The new National Water Trail System will help fulfill President Obama's vision for healthy and accessible rivers as we work to restore and conserve our nation's treasured waterways.”
Secretary Salazar signed a Secretarial Order that establishes national water trails as a class of national recreational trails under the National Trails System Act of 1968. The order sets the framework for Secretarial designation of water trails that will help facilitate outdoor recreation on waterways in and around urban areas, and provide national recognition and resources to existing, local water trails.
“The Corps will actively participate, working with many local partners, to develop the water trails system and connect people to the water resources close to their homes,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “The National Water Trails System will recognize and promote local efforts at a national level.”
Today, Secretary Salazar also announced that the Chattahoochee River Water Trail in Georgia will be the first river to be designated as a National Water Trail under the new system. The water trail travels through 48 miles of river within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The park serves 3.2 million visitors annually, most from the local Atlanta metro-region. In addition to providing over 65% of the public greenspace in this urban region, the river provides most of Atlanta's drinking water. The park and new water trail contain 18 developed public access points and connects with other local city and county parks. The river is heavily used by anglers, tubers, kayakers, canoers, and rafters.
“The Chattahoochee River Water Trail provides clean water, greenspace, and river access for millions of Americans every year,” Salazar said. “As our nation opens a new chapter on rivers - one where we value our waterways for their recreational, economic and ecological importance - it is fitting that the Chattahoochee River Water Trail leads the way.”
To see pictures of the Chattahoochee River Water Trail, click here.
With each designation, signage, technical assistance and resources will be provided to build on and promote the development of quality water trails. Water trails that are designated can become catalysts for restoring the health of local waterways throughout the community.
The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorized the creation of a National Trails System composed of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails. Although National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails may only be designated by an Act of Congress, National Recreation Trails may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture.
Under the Secretarial Order, the National Park Service will coordinate the national water trail nomination process.