Celebrate 50 years of the Scenic and Wild Rivers Act


Fifty years ago was a big step forward for conservation in the U.S. and in the state of Ohio.

In 1968, Ohio and the Federal government passed the Ohio Scenic Rivers Act and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

“Ohio pioneered the river preservation movement in 1968 with the passage of the nation’s first scenic rivers act.” (ODNR)

The Scenic Rivers Act protects our high-quality waterways and their river corridors for future generation. These acts established systems to protect streams and rivers as well as standards in which additional rivers may be identified and added to the list.

Many people hear about scenic rivers and are unsure of what makes a certain river so special, and why does it matter if it is designated wild or scenic.

What makes their waterways so special is the land area around them, and the life in them. Wild and Scenic Rivers have a healthy riparian area, or area running along the stream. Usually, these riparian areas are wooded and are vacant of development.

In the water lives an array of organisms from high-quality stream insects to good populations of game fish.

Many of the wild and scenic rivers in the country are great tourist attractions and are great areas to view nature and get away from the busy world.

So what protection does being designated a Wild or Scenic River offer a waterway? When a river meets the criteria to become designated it will become protected from public development in one way.

All “public” projects must be approved by representatives from the national or state Scenic River System. These public projects might be a bridge replacement, mine reclamation, utility project that falls within a 1,000-foot corridor of the stream.

This restriction allows for these streams and rivers to remain free-flowing and healthy.

What a designation does not do is hinder any private development along the stream.

Columbiana County

Little Beaver Creek in Columbiana County was designated a State Wild River in 1978 and is one of only three rivers in Ohio to be designated a National Scenic River.

With the rugged terrain of southeast Columbiana County, it offers great wooded hillsides surrounding the stream, along with great overlooks.

The area offers hiking through Beaver Creek State Park, Sheepskin Hollow Nature Preserve, Hellbender Bluff, County Park and Beaver Creek State Forest.

Canoeing and kayaking Little Beaver Creek is a fun activity when water levels cooperate. The fishing is also fabulous, as Little Beaver Creek holds an amazing smallmouth bass population.


If you are like me and you are anxiously awaiting the weather to break, to enjoy some of these springtime activities. Special events are being planned throughout the state of Ohio in 2018 to celebrate.

Find your nearest Scenic River and join in on the celebration by visiting one these great assets that we are lucky enough to have in our backyard.


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Joshua Emanuelson is the Little Beaver Creek watershed coordinator at the Columbiana Soil and Water Conservation District. He has a bachelor's degree in conservation biology from Thiel College.



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