National Designation to Preserve Wild & Scenic Rivers

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By Amy Kolb Noyes

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress 45 years ago through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.The law is intended to protect rivers, or river segments with “outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”

In 2009, a group of northern Vermont residents formed The Wild & Scenic River Study Committee to evaluate Wild and Scenic Designation along the upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers. According to committee, the Upper Missisquoi River and the Trout River are the first two rivers in Vermont to be considered for inclusion under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The sections of river in question travel through ten communities: Berkshire, Town of Enosburgh, Village of Enosburg Falls, Jay, Lowell, Montgomery, Richford, Town of Troy, Village of North Troy and Westfield. This Town Meeting Day, an article appeared in the warning of each of those towns, with the exception of Jay, asking voters to support petitioning Congress to include the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers as National Wild and Scenic Rivers “with the understanding that such designation would be based on the locally-developed rivers Management Plan and would not involve federal acquisition or management of lands.”

Only Lowell voted against supporting the designation. The Jay Select Board voted against including the article on the town meeting warning, primarily because Jay is only home to a tributary to the Upper Missisquoi.

The Wild & Scenic River Study Committee will discuss next steps at a meeting in Richford on Thursday, March 21.