El Yunque NF
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  • Wild and Scenic Rivers

    Puerto Rico has approximately 5,385 miles of river, of which 8.9 miles of three rivers are designated as wild & scenic—less than 2/10ths of 1% of the commonwealth's river miles. In 2002 three rivers were designated Wild and Scenic Rivers by Congress and are under the management of the Forest Service:

    Río de La Mina

    From its headwaters to its confluence with the Rio Mameyes. Scenic — 1.2 miles; Recreational — 0.9 miles; Total — 2.1 miles.


    Río Icacos

    From its headwaters to the boundary of the Caribbean National Forest. Scenic — 2.3 miles; Total — 2.3 miles.


    Río Mameyes

    From its headwaters in the Baño de Oro Research Natural Area to the boundary of El Yunque National Forest. Wild — 2.1 miles; Scenic — 1.4 miles; Recreational — 1.0 miles; Total — 4.5 miles.


    What are wild and scenic rivers?

    The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protects more than 12,700 miles of rivers and streams in the U.S. Designation as a wild and scenic river is our nation’s strongest form of protection for free-flowing rivers and streams. They have remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic or other similar values that led Congress to add these waterways to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

    Are wild and scenic rivers off limits to the public?

    Not at all! Wild and scenic rivers are for your pleasure, enjoyment, and stewardship. These rivers are important for countless reasons, but many visitors are interested in the world class recreational adventure they offer.

    The Forest Service works with the public to ensure that the free flowing condition, water quality, and outstandingly remarkable values of these rivers are protected from overuse, instream developments, and other impacts that do not enhance these values.

    River Classification

    Rivers are classified as wild, scenic, or recreational:

    • Wild River Areas – 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.
    • Scenic River Areas – 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.
    • Recreational River Areas – 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.

    Regardless of classification, each river in the National System is administered with the goal of protecting and enhancing the values that caused it to be designated. The Act purposefully strives to balance dam and other construction at appropriate sections of rivers with permanent protection for some of the country's most outstanding free-flowing rivers. To accomplish this, it prohibits federal support for actions such as the construction of dams or other instream activities that would harm the river's free-flowing condition, water quality, or outstanding resource values. However, designation does not affect existing water rights or the existing jurisdiction of states and the federal government over waters as determined by established principles of law.