Federal Support of Community Efforts Along American Heritage Rivers: Executive Order 13061

September 11, 1997


In order to protect and restore rivers and their adjacent communities, the American Heritage Rivers initiative has three objectives: natural resource and environmental protection, economic revitalization, and historic and cultural preservation.

Executive Order 13061: Federal Support of Community Efforts Along American Heritage Rivers

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (Public Law 91-190), and in order to protect and restore rivers and their adjacent communities, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policies.

  1. The American Heritage Rivers initiative has three objectives: natural resource and environmental protection, economic revitalization, and historic and cultural preservation.
  2. Executive agencies ("agencies''), to the extent permitted by law and consistent with their missions and resources, shall coordinate Federal plans, functions, programs, and resources to preserve, protect, and restore rivers and their associated resources important to our history, culture, and natural heritage.
  3. Agencies shall develop plans to bring increased efficiencies to existing and authorized programs with goals that are supportive of protection and restoration of communities along rivers.
  4. In accordance with Executive Order 12630, agencies shall act with due regard for the protection of private property provided for by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. No new regulatory authority is created as a result of the American Heritage Rivers initiative. This initiative will not interfere with matters of State, local, and tribal government jurisdiction.
  5. In furtherance of these policies, the President will designate rivers that meet certain criteria as "American Heritage Rivers."
  6. It is the policy of the Federal Government that communities shall nominate rivers as American Heritage Rivers and the Federal role will be solely to support community-based efforts to preserve, protect, and restore these rivers and their communities.
  7. Agencies should, to the extent practicable, help identify resources in the private and nonprofit sectors to aid revitalization efforts.
  8. Agencies are encouraged, to the extent permitted by law, to develop partnerships with State, local, and tribal governments and community and nongovernmental organizations. Agencies will be responsive to the diverse needs of different kinds of communities from the core of our cities to remote rural areas and shall seek to ensure that the role played by the Federal Government is complementary to the plans and work being carried out by State, local, and tribal governments. To the extent possible, Federal resources will be strategically directed to complement resources being spent by these governments.
  9. Agencies shall establish a method for field offices to assess the success of the American Heritage River initiative and provide a means to recommend changes that will improve the delivery and accessibility of Federal services and programs. Agencies are directed, where appropriate, to reduce and make more flexible procedural requirements and paperwork related to providing assistance to communities along designated rivers.
  10. Agencies shall commit to a policy under which they will seek to ensure that their actions have a positive effect on the natural, historic, economic, and cultural resources of American Heritage River communities. The policy will require agencies to consult with American Heritage River communities early in the planning stages of Federal actions, take into account the communities' goals and objectives and ensure that actions are compatible with the overall character of these communities. Agencies shall seek to ensure that their help for one community does not adversely affect neighboring communities. Additionally, agencies are encouraged to develop formal and informal partnerships to assist communities. Local Federal facilities, to the extent permitted by law and consistent with the agencies' missions and resources, should provide public access, physical space, technical assistance, and other support for American Heritage River communities.
  11. In addition to providing support to designated rivers, agencies will work together to provide information and services to all communities seeking support.

Sec. 2. Process for Nominating an American Heritage River.

  1. Nomination. Communities, in coordination with their State, local, or tribal governments, can nominate their river, river stretch, or river confluence for designation as an American Heritage River. When several communities are involved in the nomination of the same river, nominations will detail the coordination among the interested communities and the role each will play in the process. Individuals living outside the community may not nominate a river.
  2. Selection Criteria. Nominations will be judged based on the following:
    1. the characteristics of the natural, economic, agricultural, scenic, historic, cultural, or recreational resources of the river that render it distinctive or unique;
    2. the effectiveness with which the community has defined its plan of action and the extent to which the plan addresses, either through planned actions or past accomplishments, all three American Heritage Rivers objectives, which are set forth in section 1(a) of this order;
    3. the strength and diversity of community support for the nomination as evidenced by letters from elected officials; landowners; private citizens; businesses; and especially State, local, and tribal governments. Broad community support is essential to receiving the American Heritage River designation; and
    4. willingness and capability of the community to forge partnerships and agreements to implement their plan to meet their goals and objectives.
  3. Recommendation Process.

    The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (``CEQ'') shall develop a fair and objective procedure to obtain the views of a diverse group of experts for the purpose of making recommendations to the President as to which rivers shall be designated. These experts shall reflect a variety of viewpoints, such as those representing natural, cultural, and historic resources; scenic, environmental, and recreation interests; tourism, transportation, and economic development interests; and industries such as agriculture, hydropower, manufacturing, mining, and forest management. The Chair of the CEQ will ensure that the rivers recommended represent a variety of stream sizes, diverse geographical locations, and a wide range of settings from urban to rural and ensure that relatively pristine, successful revitalization efforts are considered as well as degraded rivers in need of restoration.

  4. Designation.
    1. The President will designate certain rivers as American Heritage Rivers. Based on the receipt of a sufficient number of qualified nominations, ten rivers will be designated in the first phase of the initiative.
    2. The Interagency Committee provided for in section 3 of this order shall develop a process by which any community that nominates and has its river designated may have this designation terminated at its request.
    3. Upon a determination by the Chair of the CEQ that a community has failed to implement its plan, the Chair may recommend to the President that a designation be revoked. The Chair shall notify the community at least 30 days prior to making such a recommendation to the President. Based on that recommendation, the President may revoke the designation.

Sec. 3. Establishment of an Interagency Committee.

There is hereby established the American Heritage Rivers Interagency Committee ("Committee"). The Committee shall have two co-chairs. The Chair of the CEQ shall be a permanent co-chair. The other co-chair will rotate among the heads of the agencies listed below.

  1. The Committee shall be composed of the following members or their designees at the Assistant Secretary level or equivalent:

    The Chair of the CEQ may invite to participate in meetings of the Committee, representatives of other agencies, as appropriate.

    1. The Secretary of Defense;
    2. The Attorney General;
    3. The Secretary of the Interior;
    4. The Secretary of Agriculture;
    5. The Secretary of Commerce;
    6. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development;
    7. The Secretary of Transportation;
    8. The Secretary of Energy;
    9. The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;
    10. The Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation;
    11. The Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts; and
    12. he Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  2. The Committee shall:
    1. establish formal guidelines for designation as an American Heritage River;
    2. periodically review the actions of agencies in support of the American Heritage Rivers;
    3. report to the President on the progress, accomplishments, and effectiveness of the American Heritage Rivers initiative; and
    4. perform other duties as directed by the Chair of the CEQ.

Sec. 4. Responsibilities of the Federal Agencies.

Consistent with Title I of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, agencies shall:

  1. identify their existing programs and plans that give them the authority to offer assistance to communities involved in river conservation and community health and revitalization;
  2. to the extent practicable and permitted by law and regulation, refocus programs, grants, and technical assistance to provide support for communities adjacent to American Heritage Rivers;
  3. identify all technical tools, including those developed for purposes other than river conservation, that can be applied to river protection, restoration, and community revitalization;
  4. provide access to existing scientific data and information to the extent permitted by law and consistent with the agencies mission and resources;
  5. cooperate with State, local, and tribal governments and communities with respect to their activities that take place in, or affect the area around, an American Heritage River;
  6. commit to a policy, as set forth in section 1(j) of this order, in making decisions affecting the quality of an American Heritage River;
  7. select from among all the agencies a single individual called the "River Navigator," for each river that is designated an American Heritage River, with whom the communities can communicate goals and needs and who will facilitate community-agency interchange;
  8. allow public access to the river, for agencies with facilities along American Heritage Rivers, to the extent practicable and consistent with their mission; and
  9. cooperate, as appropriate, with communities on projects that protect or preserve stretches of the river that are on Federal property or adjacent to a Federal facility.

Sec. 5. Responsibilities of the Committee and the Council on Environmental Quality.

The CEQ shall serve as Executive agent for the Committee, and the CEQ and the Committee shall ensure the implementation of the policies and purposes of this initiative.

Sec. 6. Definition.

For the purposes of this order, Executive agency means any agency on the Committee and such other agency as may be designated by the President.

Sec. 7. Judicial Review.

This order does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

September 11, 1997.

Executive Action Type
Executive Order