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Scenic Rivers
Rapids on the Stillwater Scenic River
Scenic Rivers

What the Classifications Mean

The three different classifications  Wild, Scenic, and Recreational  are a means to recognize the unique characteristics of a stream so that river preservation activities among diverse state and local governments, organizations, and individuals can be coordinated. When combined with statutory authority to review and approve publicly funded projects on designated rivers, designation helps ensure that decisions and activities that may impact a river are conducted in an environmentally sensitive and responsible manner.

Wild: Wild rivers are generally inaccessible, the flood plain is undeveloped, the river is free flowing, and 75 percent of the adjacent corridor is forested to a depth of at least 300 feet.

Scenic: Scenic river designation is representative of a waterway that retains much of its natural character for the majority of its length. Shorelines are, for the most part, undeveloped, but the river may exhibit signs of disturbance by human activities. The adjacent corridor must be forested to a minimum depth of 300 feet for 25 percent of the stream’s length.

Recreational: Recreational rivers do not possess the same degree of natural qualities found in wild or scenic rivers, yet warrant protection due to unique cultural and/or important historical attributes. The influence of human activities is much more apparent on rivers with this classification.