Wild & Scenic Rivers

Please check back periodically for updates.

Over 400 miles of rivers and streams in a single watershed--all designated at once as the Wild and Scenic Snake River Headwaters. The public has been working alongside the Forest Service to determine how best to manage the 315 miles of those waterways on the Bridger-Teton National Forest (the rest are managed by National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service). Follow the planning process here--an Environmental Assessment will evaluate a proposed Forest Plan Amendment to determine management standards for the river corridors, and a Comprehensive River Management Plan will incorporate those standards along with additional information about existing conditions and potential areas for improvement.

For information about specific river segments and their Outstanding Values click here. 


Granite Creek


Comprehensive River Management Plan

The Bridger-Teton National Forest is in the process of completing a Comprehensive River Management Plan for the stream segments designated in 2009.

Latest Updates:

01/2014 Comprehensive River Management Plan Final

12/03/2013 Comprehensive River Management Plan Appendices

05/06/13 Comprehensive River Management Plan Draft

05/06/13 Wild and Scenic Snake River Headwaters Forest Plan Amendment Environmental Assessment


Past Update:  05/2012  Forest Plan Amendment draft proposal

How the process is working - Slide show from March 2012 workshop.

FALL 2010 NEWSLETTER -- please check out our newsletter for general information about the planning effort.

SUMMER 2010 NEWSLETTER - check out this document for information on the beginnings of the planning effort as well as some great background info on the Snake River Headwaters designation.

Please check back periodically for more information!


The foundation for preparing a comprehensive wild and scenic river management plan is to clearly articulate designated rivers’ outstandingly remarkable values (ORVs), water quality, and free-flowing character, so that these values can be protected and enhanced in accordance with the mandate of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Staff from the U. S. Forest Service, in collaboration with the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department, with public input, developed the following set of draft ORV statements for the Snake River Headwaters. Because free-flowing condition and water quality support the integrity of the rivers’ outstandingly remarkable values and are key components of the planning effort, they are addressed at the end of the ORV statements. Here is the draft document.

08/25/2011 Draft ORV Assessment

Thank you to all of those who submitted input to help develop the ORV's!

Designated Waterways

Below is a list of the designated waterways on the Bridger-Teton National Forest

Bailey Creek Blackrock Creek Buffalo Fork Crystal Creek Granite Creek
Gros Ventre River Hoback River N Buffalo Fork Pacific Creek Shoal Creek
Snake River Soda Fork S Buffalo Fork Willow Creek Wolf Creek

Overview Map

The Forest must determine the boundaries of the river corridors that will fall under the new management plan. In most of the Headwaters, a standard 1/4 mile from high-water serves well as the corridor boundary. In a few places, the Forest is proposing to add some additional acreage to better protect the identified outstanding values and features.While private lands will continue to fall under county jurisdiction and not the standards of the Forest Plan, they are shown in the corridor except where specifically excluded in the designation law.


Here is the link to the Craig Thomas Snake Headwaters Legacy Act of 2009.



Q: What is the purpose of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) and of adding rivers to the National System? 

A: The WSRA establishes a national policy and program to preserve and protect selected rivers, or segments of rivers, in their free-flowing condition.

The Wild and ScenicSnake River Headwaters was added to the National System by Public Law 111-11 (P.L. 111-11—March 30, 2009).

Q: What are the qualifications for, and how are, rivers added to the National System? 

A: To be designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, rivers or segments of river must be free-flowing and possess at least one “outstandingly remarkable” value—such as scenic, recreational, geologic, fish, wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar features. Congress or the Secretary of the Interior may add rivers to the National System.

The Snake River Headwaters' exceptional scenery, fisheries, wildlife/ecological, recreational, geologic, and cultural  resources are the outstandingly remarkable values for which the river system was designated, along with its free-flowing condition and high water quality.

Q: How are designated wild and scenic rivers (WSR) managed?

A: WSRs are managed to protect and enhance their free-flowing condition, water quality and outstandingly remarkable values (ORVs). This nondegradation and enhancement policy allows existing uses to continue on federal lands where they do not conflict with river protection. Through development of a management plan and in ongoing management, the river-administering agency works with its partners to identify and resolve any activities adversely affecting river values on federal and nonfederal lands.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service, has the responsibility to manage a large portion of the Snake River Headwaters, including regulation of surface waters for recreational activities. Although the Forest Service manages the river system and has management authority on National Forest System lands, stewardship is a shared responsibility because the Snake River Headwaters flow through both public and private lands. Many different people—from private landowners to members of federal, State, county, and private organizations— will interact with one another in decision-making, working together to protect these special places.

Q: What are the general effects of WSR designation?

A: WSR designation helps to protect and enhance a river’s current natural condition and provide for public use consistent with retaining those values. Designation affords certain legal protection from adverse development; for example, no new dams can be constructed and no federally assisted water resource developments can be allowed if they would adversely affect designated river values. Where private lands are involved, the river-administering agency works with local governments and landowners to develop protective measures.

Q: What does a river’s classification mean?

A: Rivers added to the National System by Congress are classified in one of three classes depending on the extent of development and accessibility along each segment:

Recreation  Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.

Scenic  Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped,but accessible in places by roads.

Wild  Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.

A river’s classification does not represent the values for which it was added to the National System. For example, a “recreational” river does not necessarily mean recreation is an ORV or that this segment of the river will be managed for recreational activities. The direction in the WSRA to protect and enhance the river’s values (free-flow, water quality and ORVs) applies equally to each of the three classifications.


For more information on the Snake River Headwaters and/or other Wild and Scenic Rivers, check out this interagency website:

www.rivers.gov - Interagency site for all of the waters and most of the questions involved in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system.


Feel free to e-mail us at BTNF-WSRivers@fs.usda.gov with questions or comments.