As a component of the Comprehensive State Water Plan process, the IWRB can designate river segments with outstanding fish and wildlife, recreational, aesthetic, or geologic value as a State-Protected River. If the IWRB decides that the values of preserving an outstanding waterway in its existing condition outweigh the values of continued development, it can, subject to legislative approval, designate that waterway either a Natural River or Recreational River to protect existing resources and use. Designation may prohibit:
- construction or expansion of dams or impoundments,
- construction of hydropower projects,
- construction of water diversion works,
- dredge or placer mining,
- alterations of the stream bed, and/or
- mineral, sand, or gravel extraction within the stream bed.
Over 2,745 miles of Idaho’s rivers are protected by the State.