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York River earns 'Wild and Scenic' National Park Service designation

A family enjoys canoeing on the York River.
Karen Young
A family enjoys canoeing on the York River.

The York River has been designated a National Park Service "Wild and Scenic" river destination in the 2023 federal government funding bill, a designation local residents say will help them protect and manage the resource.

Chuck Ott is the former chair of the York Wild and Scenic River Study Committee, a group that has extensively studied the river's water quality, biodiversity, historical significance and economic importance. He says some residents worried the designation would come with overreach by the federal government.

"The law prohibits any acquisition of land by the federal government and all decisions made about the use of the river are made by state or local ordinances. There are no federal regulations or intervention in any of that," he says.

Ott says the next step will be to establish a stewardship committee that will implement a plan developed by the study committee to manage more than 30 miles of the river and acreage around it and continue studies to ensure the river's health is maintained.