Helfrich River Outfitters operates on 4 amazing rivers in 2 different states, The Rogue, Owyhee, Mckenzie and Middle Fork of the Salmon. Each of these rivers is a designated “Wild and Scenic River” and two – The Roge and the Middle Fork of the Salmon, were included in the original 8 Wild and Scenic Rivers. You may be wondering, what is a Wild and Scenic River? What does that even mean? Let’s talk about it and why it is so important.
Back in 1958 a proposal was set forth to build multiple dams on the Salmon River in Idaho. Senator Frank Church saw the damage that would do to one of Idaho’s last remaining wild and free flowing water sheds. Church began working on legislation that would protect Idaho’s Salmon River, however as he started on this project senators from other states caught on came to him with rivers they too wanted protected.
Sadly, during the 50’s and 60’s rivers in the United States were not at their best. It wasn’t just the addition and threat of dams but also pollution. Untreated industrial and municipal waste was poisoning many watersheds to the point where communities were being relocated to mitigate harm. This very visceral representation of the harm we had been and still were doing to our water woke folks up and led them to push for protection. It wasn’t just water either, there was some momentum in congress at the time to protect our wild spaces as well. During Lyndon B Johnson’s Presidency (1963-1969) he signed multiple acts of congress protecting and preserving the natural resources of the United States – The Wilderness Act, The Clean Air Act, and of course the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Back to The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Idaho’s Franck Church worked with senators from all over the country on a bill to protect our country’s finest rivers. It took a lot of work but 10 years after the Idaho dam proposal the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed through Congress. This act protected 8 original rivers and set the framework for protecting hundreds more declaring “policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.”
Those original 8 Rivers were:
Eleven Point (Missouri)
Rio Grand (New Mexico)
St. Croix (Wisconsin & Minnesota)
Today there are a total of 226 Wild and Scenic Rivers! As you can imagine, we love Wild and Scenic Rivers. We love fishing, floating, rafting and swimming in them, not to mention camping along their shores, under the stars a long way from our email inboxes. The rivers we run, and get to take you down, are very special places – they are clean, beautiful and part of a diverse ecosystem (including fish we love to catch). Come see what all the hype is about and why they were special enough to be recognize as well worth protecting!
– Sadie King