The National Wild and Scenic Rivers (WSR) System was created by Congress in 1968 (Public Law 90-542; 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding 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. This webinar will focus on the Act itself and the role of the WSR Coordinating Council.
Steve Chesterton, Wild & Scenic Rivers Program Manager – USDA Forest Service, Washington Office, National Forest System; firstname.lastname@example.org; Britta Nelson – Wild and Scenic Rivers Program Coordinator, Bureau of Land Management; email@example.com
Q: Can individuals pan or suction dredge for gold in designated wild and scenic rivers?
A: It depends on whether the collecting activity is commercial or noncommercial in nature and subject to river-administering agency regulation. Mining under the 1872 mining law is a commercial and business activity tied to valid existing rights of claims and is regulated as such (36 CFR 228, 43 CFR 3809, 8365, et al). Non-commercial mineral collecting for recreational purposes (e.g., hobby collecting, rock-hounding, gold panning, sluicing, or dredging) may be authorized by the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service depending on the amounts collected, size and scale of activity, resource values impacted, and river management objectives. This collecting is subject to state, local and other federal regulations. The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) generally prohibit both commercial and non-commercial locatable mineral collecting (subject to valid existing rights). For refuges in Alaska, the FWS under 50 CFR 36.31(b) allows surface collection by hand of gold (including handheld gold pans) for recreational use only; however, collection involving surface disturbance (e.g., the use of shovels, pick axes, sluicing or dredging) is prohibited.