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e-CFR data is current as of October 23, 2020

Title 36Chapter IIPart 297 → Subpart A


Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property
PART 297—WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS


Subpart A—Water Resources Projects


Contents
§297.1   General.
§297.2   Scope and application.
§297.3   Definitions.
§297.4   Requirements for Federal agencies.
§297.5   Determination.
§297.6   Environmental analysis requirements.

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§297.1   General.

Section 7 of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. 1278), as amended, provides for the protection of the free-flowing, scenic, and natural values of rivers designated as components or potential components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System from the effects of construction of any water resources project.

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§297.2   Scope and application.

These rules apply to Federal assistance in the construction of water resources projects affecting Wild and Scenic Rivers or Study Rivers administered in whole or part by the Secretary of Agriculture.

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§297.3   Definitions.

Act means the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (82 Stat. 906, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 1271-1288).

Construction means any action carried on with Federal assistance affecting the free-flowing characteristics or the scenic or natural values of a Wild and Scenic River or Study River.

Federal assistance means any assistance by an authorizing agency including, but not limited to, the following:

(a) A license, permit, preliminary permit, or other authorization granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission pursuant to sections 4(e) and 4(f) of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 797;

(b) A license, permit, or other authorization granted by the Corps of Engineers, Department of the Army, pursuant to the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 401 et seq.), and section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344); and,

(c) Any other license, permit, or authorization which may be required by an agency or Department of the Federal Government before, during, or after construction of a water resources project.

Free-flowing is defined by section 16(b) of the Act as “existing or flowing in natural condition without impoundment, diversion, straightening, riprapping, or other modification of the waterway” (16 U.S.C. 1287(b)).

Study period means the time during which a river is being studied as a potential component of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System and such additional time as provided in section 7(b)(ii) of the Act not to exceed 3 additional years during which a report recommending designation is before the Congress, or such additional time as may be provided by statute.

Study river means a river and the adjacent area within one quarter mile of the banks of the river which is designated for study as a potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System pursuant to section 5(a) of the Act.

Water resources project means any dam, water conduit, reservoir, powerhouse, transmission line, or other project works under the Federal Power Act (41 Stat. 1063) as amended, or other construction of developments which would affect the free-flowing characteristics of a Wild and Scenic River or Study River.

Wild and scenic river means a river and the adjacent area within the boundaries of a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System pursuant to section 3(a) or 2(a)(ii) of the Act.

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§297.4   Requirements for Federal agencies.

(a) No license, permit, or other authorization can be issued for a Federally assisted water resources project on any portion of a Wild and Scenic River or Study River nor can appropriations be requested to begin construction of such projects, without prior notice to the Secretary of Agriculture, and a determination in accordance with section 7 of the Act.

(b) As soon as practicable, but no less than 60 days prior to the date of proposed action, the Federal agency shall provide a notice of intent to issue such license, permit, or other authorization to the Chief, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 2417, Washington, DC 20013. The Secretary will, to the extent possible, give expedited consideration to a notice of intent for a project needed to address an emergency situation.

(c) The notice shall include the following information:

(1) Name and location of affected river;

(2) Location of the project;

(3) Nature of the permit or other authorization proposed for issuance;

(4) A description of the proposed activity; and

(5) Any relevant information, such as plans, maps, and environmental studies, assessments, or environmental impact statements.

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§297.5   Determination.

(a) The Secretary of Agriculture will consent to the issuance of any Federal license, permit, or other authorization if, as a finding of fact, it is determined that:

(1) The water resources project will not have a direct and adverse effect on the values for which a Wild and Scenic River or Study River was designated, when any portion of the project is within the boundaries of said river, or;

(2) The effects of the water resources project will neither invade nor unreasonably diminish the scenic, recreational, and fish wildlife values of a Wild and Scenic River, when any portion of the project is located above, below, or outside the Wild and Scenic River, or;

(3) The effects of the water resources project will neither invade nor diminish the scenic, recreational, and fish and wildlife values of a Study River when the project is located above, below, or outside the Study River during the study period.

(b) If consent is denied, the Secretary may recommend measures to eliminate adverse effects, and the authorizing agencies may submit revised plans for consideration.

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§297.6   Environmental analysis requirements.

(a) The determination of the effects of a proposed water resources project shall be made in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). To the extent possible, authorizing agencies should ensure that any environmental studies, assessments, or environmental impact statements prepared for a water resources project adequately address the environmental effects on resources protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and that the Department of Agriculture is apprised of ongoing analyses so as to facilitate coordination and identification of Wild and Scenic River related issues.

(b) To the extent practicable, impacts on Wild and Scenic River values will be considered in the context of other review procedures provided by law. Authorizing agencies are encouraged to consult with the Forest Service in order to identify measures which could eliminate any direct and adverse effects, thereby increasing the likelihood of securing consent.

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