Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:2 (Fall 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Federal river protection in the us. began in 1968 with passage of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (P.L. 90-542). In addition to the federal system, 33 states have enacted some type of state-level river protection legislation. Currently, over 400 river segments and 15,000 river miles are protected by the state programs. Texas, which contains 23 major river basins and over 80,000 linear miles of streambed, has made numerous attempts to establish a state-level protection program; however, each has failed. With a growing population of more than 17.6 million, competition for water resources will intensify, including demands for various forms of river recreation. This research reviews the status of existing state-level river protection programs, summarizes the progression of water resource development in Texas as it relates to river protection issues, analyzes the history of failed legislative attempts at establishing a Texas rivers system, and recommends strategies for future passage of a Texas river protection act.