National Scenic Area (United States)

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A National Scenic Area in the United States is a federally designated area of outstanding natural and scenic value that receives a level of protection that is less stringent than wilderness designation. Scenic areas are typically occupied or used in some manner by people and either cannot be considered for wilderness designation, or are seen as suitable for a wider range of uses than those permitted under wilderness designation.[1]

The first National Scenic Area in the United States was Mono Basin National Scenic Area in 1984,[2] followed by the much larger and more ambitious Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in 1986. The Columbia River Gorge was in a region of outstanding natural beauty that was already heavily used by people. The designation of the Columbia Gorge was controversial, as it imposed a significant amount of federal control on public and private lands that had previously not been significantly regulated.[3] Subsequent scenic area designations have been significantly less far-reaching, typically involving existing federal lands.

National Scenic Areas[edit]

Proposed National Scenic Areas[edit]

Several proposals have been advanced for additional National Scenic Areas:

  • Sedona-Red Rocks National Scenic Area, Arizona, legislation introduced in 2010 failed.[4]
  • Grandfather National Scenic Area, North Carolina[5]
  • Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area, Virginia[6]
  • Big Schloss National Scenic Area, Virginia and West Virginia[7]
  • Kelley Mountain National Scenic Area. Virginia[8]
  • Big Sur Coast National Scenic Area, California[9]

Former National Scenic Areas[edit]


  1. ^ Johnson, Randy (July 21, 2011). "National Scenic Areas Near and Far - A Path for the High Country?". High Country Press. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011.
  2. ^ USFS contributors (2009). "Inyo National Forest: Special Places". United States Forest Service. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
  3. ^ "About the Scenic Area". Columbia River Gorge Commission. Archived from the original on 11 August 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  4. ^ "H.R. 4823 (111th): Sedona-Red Rock National Scenic Area Act of 2010". Govtrack. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  5. ^ Johnson, Randy (July 14, 2011). "Grandfather National Scenic Area: An Introduction". High Country News. Archived from the original on November 19, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  6. ^ Averill, Graham (February 19, 2009). "Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area?". Blue Ridge Outdoors. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  7. ^ "Big Schloss Proposed National Scenic Area". Virginia Wilderness Committee. Archived from the original on July 15, 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  8. ^ "Kelley Mountain". Virginia Wilderness Committee. Archived from the original on July 15, 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  9. ^ "Big Sur National Scenic Area Proposed" (PDF). Big Sur Gazette. February 1980. Retrieved July 16, 2012.