Partnership Wild & Scenic River Designation

Bad River National Wild & Scenic River Study Initiative

FAQ on our designation initiative

The Superior Rivers Watershed Association and a dedicated committee of volunteers are actively seeking Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation for the Bad River watershed.

Where are we at in the process:

Step 1: Explore

Step 2: Study

Step 3: Designate

What is a National Wild and Scenic River? 

Under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, enacted by Congress in 1968, a river that possesses outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geological, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values can be designated into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System to preserve the river and its special values for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.  Nationwide there are 226 Wild & Scenic rivers, totaling 13,413 miles.  In Wisconsin, there are two nationally designated rivers, the St. Croix/Namekagon and the Wolf Rivers.

What are the benefits of Wild and Scenic River designation? 

  • Provides national recognition for the river and its’ special values
  • Helps protect the river and its rural character for current and future generations
  • Provides an added economic driver for tourism
  • Assures that the local communities are an essential part of river management
  • Provides National Park Service (NPS) funding and expertise to implement the Stewardship Plan
  • Provides the capacity to work across geographical and political boundaries for the good of the river

The Process

Step 1: Explore

The Bad River has many Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) that we believe make it eligible for designation as a Partnership Wild & Scenic River. We believe that the Bad River is also suitable for designation, and this is where our community comes in. Suitable rivers have community support to protect them. Our committee is actively seeking documentation  of support from local governments and key stakeholders for federal legislation to conduct a feasibility study of the Bad River (and its associated tributaries) to determine their eligibility and suitability to be included as a Partnership Wild and Scenic River.  This will help us gain congressional support for step two.

Step 2: Study

The next step toward designation is for Congress to authorize funding for a three-year study to determine if the river is eligible (e.g., does it possess outstanding values?) and suitable (e.g., is there local support?) for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System.   The process is entirely voluntary and in the hands of local communities who are members of a Study Committee; it may or may not lead to designation.  One of the products of a study will be a locally developed Stewardship Plan to guide river conservation that communities can voluntarily implement. The study is funded by the National Park Service.

Step 3: Designation

If Congress amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to include the Bad River and the President signs that bill into law then it will be designated as a national Wild and Scenic River. A local Advisory Committee uses the Management Plan developed by the study as a framework to encourage local agencies, municipalities, and landowners to protect the river’s resources. See the FAQ document at the top of the page for more information on what designation does and does not do.