The Wild President: New Film Celebrates Jimmy Carter’s River Legacy

Jimmy Carter, October 2016, Atlanta
Jimmy Carter, October 2016, Atlanta. Photo: Jacob Boling.

President Jimmy Carter’s connection to rivers and his leadership in river protection is celebrated in the new film “The Wild President.”

The film tells the story of Carter’s first descent down the Chattooga River’s Bull Sluice Rapid. Carter was instrumental in protecting the Chattooga as a Wild and Scenic River, and helped conserve rivers across Georgia and the nation. The film also features conservationist Claude Terry, a founder of American Rivers and Doug Woodward, co-founder of Southeastern Expeditions.

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American Rivers and NRS produced “The Wild President” as part of 5,000 Miles of Wild – a campaign to designate 5,000 new miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers nationwide. October 2, 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

“In an era when public lands and clean, healthy waters – concepts we once took for granted in America – face grave threats, President Carter’s example as a steward and guardian of rivers is inspiring. We hope this film helps renew our commitment as a nation to protecting free-flowing rivers and wild places for generations to come,” said Mark Deming, NRS Director of Marketing.

The federal Wild and Scenic designation safeguards values including clean drinking water, recreation and fish and wildlife. Wild and Scenic Rivers include beloved reaches such as the Middle Fork Salmon, Tuolumne, Flathead, Rogue, Chattooga, Rio Grande, Upper Delaware and New, among many others.

The designation prohibits new dams or other harmful water projects and engages communities and landowners to create locally-driven river management plans, while honoring existing water rights and common uses such as irrigated agriculture and hunting.

Georgia's Wild and Scenic Chattooga River. Photo: Sinjin Eberle
Georgia’s Wild and Scenic Chattooga River. Photo: Sinjin Eberle

Today, less than one percent of America’s rivers remain wild and free. Without official protection, rivers are vulnerable to destruction from dams, pollution, oil and gas development and other threats.

“I think it’s very important for all Americans to take a stand, a positive stand, in protecting wild rivers,” President Carter says in the film. “I hope that all Americans will join together with me and others who love the outdoors to protect this for our children and our grandchildren.”

President Carter’s connection to rivers runs deep and he has been a champion for wild rivers over the course of his lifetime. We are honored to share this story and we hope it will inspire a new generation to speak up and protect the rivers they love.


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Meet the Author
Amy Kober is the senior communications director for American Rivers, a national non-profit river conservation organization. She lives in Portland, OR.