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The North Carolina Natural and Scenic Rivers Act (NCNSRA) was passed to preserve, protect and maintain selected free-flowing rivers and adjacent land for their outstanding natural, scenic, educational, geological, recreational, historic, fish and wildlife, scientific and cultural values.
These rivers are protected for the present and future benefit of the people of North Carolina.
The uppermost part of the river from State Route 1412 (Turnpike Bridge) to Back Swamp is the narrowest section of the river, measuring an average of 40 feet in width.
This section is classified as scenic, which is defined as largely primitive, undeveloped, and free of impoundments, but accessible by roads.
Fishing: Bank, small boat and canoe fishing occur all along the river. Common species fished are catfish, bass, jack and bluegill bream.
The most popular portion of the river for canoeists is the Lower Lumber River Recreational Trail, a part of the North Carolina Trails System, which has 17 segments. This annual event was discontinued because fallen trees had made that section of the river impassable. It was the first official canoe trail in North Carolina.
Intensive canoeing activity can take place within the eight-mile stretch of river through Lumberton in Robeson County, ranging from N. 72 at Mc Neill's bridge to its intersection with N. The regatta was a popular event, and local officials are interested in reviving it now that most of the obstructions have been removed. In 1981, the Lumber River Canoe Trail was designated as one of the first national water trails in the southeastern United States.
In 1989, the North Carolina General Assembly created the Lumber River State to be managed as a Natural and Scenic River "to preserve its outstanding character in perpetuity." Under the NCNSRA, there are three classifications that a river can receive — natural, scenic, and recreational.
The Lumber River has all three classifications at some point along its course.