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Wild and Scenic River Information

Arctic Refuge recently completed an Eligibility Report (2 mb pdf file) and a draft Suitability Report (14 mb pdf file) as part of the Wild and Scenic River (WSR) Review being conducted for the Refuge's revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The eligibility report provides an inventory of the rivers on Refuge lands that are eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (NWSRS). The suitability report considers tradeoffs between development and protection to determine whether eligible rivers would be appropriate additions to the NWSRS. The suitability analysis is based on suitability criteria (190 kb pdf file) set forth in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (940 kb pdf file). Also available is a brief summary of the eligibility report (290 kb pdf file) and a summary of the suitability report (50 kb pdf file).

The NWSRS provides federal protection for certain free-flowing rivers, preserving them and their immediate environments for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Refuge presently has three Wild Rivers --- the Ivishak, Wind, and Sheenjek Rivers. Both the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy require us to consider the Wild and Scenic potential of rivers within the Refuge when conducting comprehensive land use planning, which is why additional rivers are being evaluated at this time.

The wild and scenic river review is a deductive process intended to identify the best waters for inclusion in the NWSRS. Rivers in the NWSRS have unique, rare, or exemplary resources that make them truly outstandingly remarkable. For Arctic Refuge, we compared and contrasted rivers so as to find the Refuge's most exceptional waters. Nothing in our review process precludes other Refuge waters from being reviewed in the future.

Both the eligibility and suitability reports are included in Appendix I (16.5 mb pdf file) of the full draft CCP (opens as 5.6 mb pdf file with additional pdf links) draft CCP. The draft CCP also includes a range of suitability determinations and possible recommendations to Congress. Rivers determined to be eligible are afforded interim protective management under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorities until a suitability study is completed. Rivers determined suitable are managed to protect their values until Congress makes a decision whether or not to include them in the NWSRS.

For more information on the WSR Act, designation into the NWSRS, and many other management-related issues, visit

Arctic Refuge Documents

Resource and Process Documents

Stakeholder Outreach

Stakeholders were invited to participate in a review of the October 2010 Draft Eligibility Report and to provide information about suitability criteria (190 kb pdf file). Stakeholder input was critical for the Refuge to come to an informed preliminary determination on the suitability of eligible rivers. The Refuge accepted comments between October 10 and November 12, 2010. Information provided by stakeholders was used to help draft the CCP/EIS and the draft WSR suitability study. The full public is now invited to review and comment on the two WSR reports. We will accept comments through October 22, 2011. Public input will help the Refuge come to an informed determination on the suitability of eligible rivers.

Definition of Stakeholders for Arctic Refuge Suitability

For the purposes of the WSR process, a stakeholder is a person, group, or organization that has a direct or indirect stake in the results of the Arctic Refuge Wild and Scenic River review process because the stakeholder could affect or be affected by the actions, objectives, or management provisions associated with the findings of eligibility (including Outstandingly Remarkable Values and tentative classification), suitability and/or designation of wild rivers within the Arctic Refuge.

Key stakeholders in this process include the Environmental Protection Agency; State of Alaska (Departments of Fish and Game and Natural Resources); federal agencies that border Arctic Refuge eligible rivers (BLM, NPS, FWS); air operators, guides and outfitters; Federal Subsistence Board; Tribal governments and Native Corporations; Native allotees and private landowners within the Refuge; city/village governments (Arctic Village, Venetie, Fort Yukon, Chalkyitsik, Kaktovik); and borough officials (North Slope, Fairbanks North Star).

Return to CCP web page.

Page Photo Credits — All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted.
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2015
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