Interior will leverage resources to support River Initiatives in every state and District of Columbia
WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today identified river projects in 11 Southeast and Mid-Atlantic States and the District of Columbia to serve as models of the America's Great Outdoors River Initiative to conserve and restore key rivers across the nation, expand outdoor recreational opportunities and support jobs in local communities.
The river projects are part of a list of 51 ongoing projects that the Secretary is highlighting nationwide, one in each state and the District of Columbia. Ranging from restoration of the Magnolia Creek Watershed Fish Passage project in Florida to the extension of the John Smith National Historic Trail in Maryland and Virginia, the projects were selected to provide examples on how communities across America can restore and reconnect with the rivers in their backyards.
“Across the country, we are working hand in hand with states, tribes, local communities and other partners to revitalize our nation's rivers and expand the opportunities for people to fish, swim, boat, and otherwise connect with the natural world,” Salazar said. “These on-going projects demonstrate how the federal family can be an effective conservation partner for community-led efforts to improve our environment and the quality of life of residents, while creating jobs in the outdoor recreation economy.”
A map and more detailed descriptions of the 11 river initiatives highlighted by Salazar can be accessed here. Additional rivers projects across the nation will be announced in the coming days. The projects identified today include:
Alabama – Dog River – Dog River National Water Trail
The National Park Service is working with local agencies and non-governmental organizations to obtain a National Water Trail designation and construct an additional river access point for the Dog River, which is one of the largest tributaries to Mobile Bay, a National Estuary, and serves as an important recreational waterway.
District of Columbia – Anacostia River – Watts Branch Stream Restoration
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Coastal Program and the D.C. Department of the Environment are collaborating with several federal and local agencies as well as non-governmental organizations to implement an urban stream restoration project that will create a healthier community by restoring fish and wildlife habitat, promoting citizen stewardship, creating recreational opportunities, and connecting residents to their local waterway.
Florida – Magnolia Creek – Magnolia Creek Fish Passage Project
The Magnolia Creek Watershed Fish Passage Project, a large contiguous watershed restoration effort, involves a partnership among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and a willing private landowner to protect and restore 200 acres of floodplain habitat along a 15-mile stream corridor that supports fish and wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation, and the overall health of Lafayette Creek ecosystem.
Georgia – Chattahoochee River – Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area &
National Water Trail
Following the designation of the Chattahoochee River as a National Water Trail, the National Park Service continues to work with many federal, state agencies and non-governmental organizations to create better connections and access to the Chattahoochee River for the six million people in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Kentucky – Kentucky River – Kentucky River Water Trail
The National Park Service is working with state and local agencies as well as non-governmental organizations to obtain a National Water Trail designation and open 36 miles of water trail for the Kentucky River, which will attract recreational boaters and tourists and expand river ecology and historical interpretive opportunities along the River.
Maryland and Virginia – Chester River and James River – Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
With the support of both governors and the Chesapeake Conservancy, on May 16 Secretary Salazar designated the Chester and James rivers as historic connecting trails and integral parts of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The action expanded the national trail, which traces the historic water routes of Captain John Smith's voyages exploring the Chesapeake Bay, by adding places important to the 17th American Indian cultures Smith encountered.
North Carolina – Waccamaw River – Waccamaw River Water Trail
The National Park Service, state and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations are collaborating to obtain a National Water Trail designation for the Waccamaw River Water Trail, which stretches across North and South Carolina from its source at Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina to Winyah Bay in South Carolina and contains one of the largest contiguous wildlife habitat areas in the southern coastal plain.
South Carolina – Waccamaw River – Waccaamaw River Water Trail
The National Park Service, state and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations are collaborating to obtain a National Water Trail designation for the Waccamaw River Water Trail, which will protect one of the largest contiguous wildlife habitat areas in the southern coastal plain, reconnect local communities to the river through education and outdoor recreation, and create economic opportunities through tourism.
Tennessee – Harpeth River – Harpeth River Restoration and Fish Passage
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, and non-governmental organizations are restoring the free flow of the river and important habitat on the Harpeth River. Located within 30 minutes of downtown Nashville, the Harpeth River is a State designated Scenic River and is one of the most archeologically and historically-significant rivers in the State.
West Virginia – Ohio River – Ohio River Aquatic Restoration
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to reestablish the native freshwater mussels that were impacted by the release of a toxic contaminant in the Ohio River, the home to 116 of North America's native freshwater mussel species.
“America has more than 3.6 million miles of rivers and streams, and nearly every American lives within a mile of a river or stream, making them some of the nation's most important recreational and ecological assets,” Salazar added.
As part of the America's Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative, Interior Department agencies – including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – will work with states and communities to advance river restoration and recreation projects by providing technical and other assistance through existing programs and staff, and by leveraging non-federal investments.
“We are a strong, committed partner in local efforts to protect and enjoy these critical and exceptional places” said Salazar.
From an economic standpoint, rivers support our recreation and tourism economy by providing opportunities for boating, fishing and hunting, hiking, camping, swimming, and numerous other outdoor activities. They also offer a focal point for environmental education and outreach that helps communities understand and connect with the great outdoors.
Salazar unveiled the America's Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative in January as part of President Obama's overall America's Great Outdoors Initiative to work with communities across the country to establish a 21st century conservation ethic, reconnect people, especially young people, to the outdoors, and promote the outdoor recreation economy.
The goals of the Rivers Initiative include protecting and restoring America's rivers for people and wildlife and enhancing river recreation that supports jobs in tourism and outdoor recreation.
Under the initiative, for example, Salazar issued a Secretarial Order in February establishing a National Water Trails System, creating a network of designated water trails on rivers across the country that will help facilitate outdoor recreation, especially around urban areas, and provide national recognition to existing, local water trails.Using his authority to designate recreational trails, he named the Chattahoochee River Water Trail, which encompasses 48 miles of river within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia, as the first trail of its kind under the new system..
In March, Salazar, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Secretary of Commerce John Bryson signed a memorandum of understanding implementing the National Fish Habitat Action Plan to assist state and local governments, landowners, and community groups in protecting and restoring waterways and fisheries.