The NationalSystem was established by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, and authorizes Congress to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. It safeguards the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.
Public Law 90-542; 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.