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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 30, 1998
                           PRESIDENT CLINTON:
                      CELEBRATING AMERICA'S RIVERS

                             July 30, 1998

Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore travel to the New River in North Carolina to designate 14 American Heritage Rivers. Communities along these rivers -- from New York's Hudson, to the mighty Mississippi, to Hawaii's Hanalei -- will receive help over the next five years tapping federal resources to carry out their plans for revitalizing their rivers and riverfronts. This initiative reflects the Administration's strong commitment to building partnerships that promote prosperity while protecting our environment.

Local Rivers, Local Plans. More than 3 million miles of rivers and streams flow across America, nourishing our soil, carrying our commerce, sustaining our wildlife and quenching our thirst. The American Heritage Rivers initiative, announced by the President in his 1997 State of the Union address, recognizes and rewards voluntary community-based efforts to restore and protect the environmental, economic, cultural and historic values of our rivers. It encourages communities to come together around their rivers and develop strategies to preserve them for future generations.

An Outpouring of Grassroots Support. Following the President's call for nominations, the Administration received 126 applications from communities in 46 states and the District of Columbia asking that their rivers be designated an American Heritage River. Each included a detailed action plan describing the communities' vision for protecting natural resources, promoting economic revitalization, and preserving cultural heritage. Twenty-one governors, and more than 200 members of Congress and 500 mayors, wrote in support of the initiative.

Helping Communities Fulfill their Visions. For each American Heritage River, a federal employee will be named as a "river navigator" to help communities identify existing federal programs and resources that can help in carrying out their plans. The "river navigator," selected in consultation with the community, will be in place within three to six months and will serve for up to five years. Federal assistance could include economic development or pollution cleanup funds, and will be provided only at a community's request.

A Cross-Section of America's Rivers. The rivers designated by the President, on the recommendation of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative Advisory Committee, reflect the extraordinary diversity and splendor of America's rivers. Some flow through pristine forest, others the inner city. Some have been largely restored, others remain heavily polluted. Some are world-renowned, others little known beyond their state. Although some designations cover the entire length of a single river, others include more than one river or cover only stretches of a river. The President's designations are: