Talk:American Heritage Rivers

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There is confusion in the article about the origin of the iInitiative and how it was managed. I was the EPA manager who directed EPA's involvement and testified before Congress about it. There was considerable skepticism and opposition in Congress about the initiative because it was established by Executive Order and not specifically authorized by any Act of Congress nor was there consultation with Committees with jurisdiction over related programs. Property rights groups feared the designation was somehow connected with the UN World Heritage Sites program and pushed back on it.

People the Interior Department suggested announcing the Initiative in a State of the Union Address. It was not a fully developed idea. After it ws announced there was a scramble to define and describe it so that a process for identifying rivers to be included could be launched, along with criteria for designation, and why it would actually mean to be included. Care had to be taken to assure it would not be or perceived to be driven by political considerations (Did the state support Clinton? Was the nomination backed by key Democrats in Congress?, etc.). The Council on Environmental Quality coordinated a work group of a dozen or so Federal Agencie, which developed answers to these and other questions about the program design and purpose. Based on experience with the National Estuary Program, created by sec. 329 of the Clean Water Act, EPA had considerable influence over these matters. An advisory committee rated the applications and CEQ made the selections.

Federal agencies received no additional resources to participate in the Initiative, and several dropped out early on. There were no new programs established to assist the designated River Communities. Each river got the assistance of a designated "Navigator" to help it identify and pursue funding opportunities. EPA supplied 4 navigators. Because of the close association with the ClintonWhite House, the program languished when George W. Bush was elected, although it was not terminated. Rather it gradually withered away as Navigators took on new assignments and the initial sponsors became disappointed at the lack of follow-through. Nevertheless, there were several valuable program and project that were undertaken as a result of the Initiative. EPABob (talk) 20:27, 8 June 2011 (UTC)