This issuance celebrates wild and scenic rivers — exceptional American streams that run freely through natural landscapes without man-made alterations. The pane features photographs that represent the more than 200 rivers or river segments designated within the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. At bottom left on each stamp is the river name.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act into law in 1968, he noted unspoiled rivers were very rare and took action against the fear that “all rivers will go this way unless somebody acts now to try to balance our river development.”
Since then, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System has grown to include more than 200 river segments — about 13,000 miles of approximately 3 million U.S. river miles spread across 41 states and Puerto Rico.
The special streams of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System are those deemed “outstandingly remarkable” in terms of “scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural” or other values. These rivers or segments are, in the words of the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, “allowed to remain in their free-flowing state and natural setting without man-made alterations.”
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act categorizes designated segments as either wild, scenic, or recreational. Wild rivers are undammed, unpolluted, generally accessible only by trail, and surrounded by “essentially primitive” shoreline, although some may be “accessible in places by roads.” Designations often result from grassroots action by local citizens.
With outdoor recreation increasingly popular in recent decades, Americans have sought out clean rivers—whether to swim or fish in gentle meanders or to raft or kayak through challenging rapids. Natural areas near rivers are rich with biodiverse habitats and are favored destinations for camping, hunting, hiking, climbing and moments of reflection—resets that help counter the frenzied pace of modern life.