As used in this chapter, the term—
(a) "River" means a flowing body of water or estuary or a section, portion, or tributary thereof, including rivers, streams, creeks, runs, kills, rills, and small lakes.
(b) "Free-flowing", as applied to any river or section of a river, means existing or flowing in natural condition without impoundment, diversion, straightening, rip-rapping, or other modification of the waterway. The existence, however, of low dams, diversion works, and other minor structures at the time any river is proposed for inclusion in the national wild and scenic rivers system shall not automatically bar its consideration for such inclusion: Provided, That this shall not be construed to authorize, intend, or encourage future construction of such structures within components of the national wild and scenic rivers system.
(c) "Scenic easement" means the right to control the use of land (including the air space above such land) within the authorized boundaries of a component of the wild and scenic rivers system, for the purpose of protecting the natural qualities of a designated wild, scenic or recreational river area, but such control shall not affect, without the owner’s consent, any regular use exercised prior to the acquisition of the easement. For any designated wild and scenic river, the appropriate Secretary shall treat the acquisition of fee title with the reservation of regular existing uses to the owner as a scenic easement for purposes of this chapter. Such an acquisition shall not constitute fee title ownership for purposes of section 1277(b) of this title.
AMENDMENTS 1986—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 99–590 inserted provisions relating to function of appropriate Secretary with respect to acquisition of fee title. 1974—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 93–279 substituted "within the authorized boundaries of a component of the wild and scenic rivers system, for the purpose of protecting the natural qualities of a designated wild, scenic or recreational river area" for "for the purposes of protecting the scenic view from the river".
16 U.S.C. § 1286 (2018)