Run Wild Run Free: 50 Years of Wild and Scenic Rivers

Shane Anderson | 2018 | 44 min.

2019 Official Selection

Over 60 years ago, America was at the peak of the industrial revolution and the nation’s waterways were dying from dams, water diversions, and pollution. Twin brothers and renowned wildlife biologists, John and Frank Craighead, drafted a river classification system with the hope to protect what remained of wild rivers. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson and has saved hundreds of America’s iconic rivers and streams from dams, over-development, and natural resource extraction. 50 years later 289 waterways have been protected totaling over 14 thousand miles. But with over 2.9 million miles of waterways in the country the balance the Craighead brothers were seeking is far from being reached.

Run Wild Run Free takes the viewer through the history to the present of Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as told through experts, grassroots organizers, whitewater enthusiasts, and members of the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho. Today, in a polarized political climate, new designations and river protections have stalled even though there is no time in history more important than now to protect our freshwater ecosystems.

More information: