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Public Papers - 1991

Statement on Signing the Niobrara Scenic River Designation Act of 1991


Today I have signed into law S. 248, the ``Niobrara Scenic River Designation Act of 1991.'' This action will, among other things, designate three segments of the Niobrara River and one segment of the Missouri River in Nebraska and South Dakota as ``instant'' components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System without the benefit of a formal study.

The Niobrara River is an outstanding river resource, and the national significance of the resource is not in question. Approval of this bill will preserve and protect the resources of the Niobrara for future generations and will provide for a worthy addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

However, I am extremely disappointed that the Congress has acted to designate these segments for Wild and Scenic River status without the benefit of a study under section 5(a) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This study is not just a matter of blind process; rather, such a study would have given the Congress all the information needed to determine the most appropriate method of protecting the valuable resources along the Niobrara. Such a study is especially important when the lands along the designated segments are predominantly privately owned. Where private property interests are at stake, a formal study should be an absolute requirement before Federal action is taken that may infringe such rights.

I believe that to protect the integrity and viability of the National Park System, completion of feasibility studies should be a prerequisite for establishment of any new unit of the National Park System. Any component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System that is administered by the National Park Service becomes a unit of the National Park System. I urge the Congress to adhere to the requirement for such studies in the future.

George Bush

The White House,

May 24, 1991.

Note: S. 248, approved May 24, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 50.

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