The New River in western North Carolina is the continent's oldest river at one billion years. It is second globally in age only to the Nile River. In 1976, the part of the river that flows through Ashe and Alleghany counties was named a Wild and Scenic River by the federal government. The designation saved the river from a massive dam and reservoir project. Such designation is given only to rivers free of impoundments and having watersheds and shorelines largely undeveloped but accessible in places by roads. Venters discusses a new foe facing the river--extensive development and its effect on the river.