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White Clay Receives
Wild and Scenic River Designation

White Clay Creek has become Delaware's first federally protected Wild and Scenic River. Congress passed legislation in October of 2000 designating the White Clay Creek as a Wild and Scenic River. This designation is the culmination of efforts begun in 1991.

The White Clay Creek watershed is one of only a few relatively intact, unspoiled and ecologically functioning river systems remaining in the highly congested and developed corridor linking Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with Newark Delaware. The watershed drains 69,000 acres in southeast Pennsylvania and northwest Delaware. Some 95,000 people live within its boundaries.

This bill means that the river receives permanent protection from federally licensed or assisted water resource projects (dams, diversions, channelization, etc.) that would have a direct and adverse effect on its free-flowing condition or outstanding remarkable resources.

It does not mean that existing infrastructure cannot be expanded to accommodate carefully planned residential, commercial and industrial growth. New Castle County is actively seeking solutions to water shortage problems, and this bill does not limit options that are in the best interests of the citizens of Delaware. The legislation does not open private lands to public access. It does not replace the authority of state, county and municipal governments to regulate land use in the watershed. There are no federal lands within the watershed, and the bill does not authorize federal funds to be used to purchase land. It simply prohibits federal funds from being used to interfere with the free-flowing nature of the river or its unique resources.

Dorothy Miller and Judith Shuler served as co-chairs of the study task force. Charles Barscz, Jr. of the National Park Service was the principal planner and project manager representing the National Park Service.

Congratulations to all those individuals, environmental groups, local governments and communities in the watershed who worked together to preserve the White Clay Creek as a unique, free flowing river.

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Last modified on October 25, 2000.