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:
Blackstone and Woonasquatucket Rivers (MA, RI) -- These rivers,
flowing through Worcester, Providence and 24 other communities,
reflect the history of New England from agrarian to early
industrial and modern times.
Connecticut River (CT, MA, NH, VT) -- Flowing 410 miles from the
Canadian border to the Connecticut coast, the river passes through
New England's great Northern Forest, 99 cities and towns, and some
of the nation's best preserved wetlands.
Cuyahoga River (OH) -- Once so polluted it caught on fire, the
100-mile-long Cuyahoga became a stark symbol of the plight of
America's rivers and a rallying point for passage of the Clean
Water Act, one of the nation's landmark environmental laws.
Detroit River (MI) -- The 32-mile-long river, once a "roadway" for
early settlers and slaves fleeing the South, today serves more than
5 million people with drinking water, recreation and cultural
opportunities, and is the largest port in the Great Lakes.
Hanalei River (HI) -- Starting high on the slopes of Mt. Waialeale
on the island of Kauai, one of the wettest spots on Earth, the
river flows 16 miles through a lush valley rich in wildlife and
traditional culture, emptying into Hanalei Bay.
Hudson River (NY) -- The first great river encountered by European
settlers, the Hudson flows 315 miles from the Adirondack Mountains
to New York Harbor, and played a central role in the early
commercial, military and cultural history of the United States.
Upper Mississippi River (IL, IA, MN, MO, WI) -- Perhaps the most
renowned of America's great rivers, the Mississippi remains a key
economic link through America's heartland. This designation
encompasses 58 communities from St. Louis to St. Paul.
Lower Mississippi River (LA, TN) -- The lower Mississippi supports
rich farmland, extensive wetlands and the largest port complex in
the world. This designation covers the stretches through Memphis
and from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.
New River (NC, VA, WV) -- The oldest river in North America, the
New originates in the Blue Ridge Mountains and flows north for 250
miles through rolling hills and farmland to the steep gorges of
West Virginia's coal country.
Potomac River (DC, MD, PA, VA, WV) -- Rich in history, the Potomac
basin holds the earliest evidence of inhabited structures in North
America, was a boundary between North and South in the Civil War,
and is home to our nation's seat of government.
Rio Grande (TX) -- Flowing from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico,
through one of the country's fastest-growing regions, the Rio
Grande forms the border between Mexico and the United States. The
designation covers the cities of El Paso, Laredo and Brownsville.
St. Johns River (FL) -- Beginning as a broad marsh south of Cape
Canaveral, the St. Johns flows 310 miles to Jacksonville, dropping
only 30 feet along the way, making it one of the laziest rivers in
Upper Susquehanna and Lackawanna Rivers (PA) -- These rivers flow
through scenic valleys in northeastern Pennsylvania, where coal
mines helped fuel America's industrial growth, but left a legacy
of pollution that communities are now working to reverse.
Willamette River (OR) -- Flowing 187 miles from the Cascade
Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, the Willamette was the final
destination of pioneers on the Oregon Trail, and remains central
to the state's economy. The designation runs from Portland to