The 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, California's first freeway, and diverse cultural traditions—from American Indian to country music—are as much a part of the America's Byways® collection as the traditional scenery of the Pacific coast, the Rocky Mountains, and the New England countryside. Natural and working landscapes not typically appreciated by travelers, such as swamps, marshes, grasslands, and prairies, have been welcomed by the National Scenic Byways Program, along with economic engines from the casinos of the Las Vegas Strip to a concrete manufacturing plant along the Mississippi River. The broadly defined and interpreted six intrinsic qualities have enhanced awareness for America's diverse land and people resources and strengthened the offerings of the America's Byways® Collection.
The concept of "intrinsic qualities" has remained central over the course of the National Scenic Byways Program's first fifteen years, but has evolved as applied to Program goals and objectives. The Program's authorizing statute (U.S.C. Title 23, Section 162) uses the phrase "scenic, historical, recreational, cultural, natural, and archeological" four times, itemizing "qualities" to be recognized, "characteristics" to be maintained, and "resources" and "integrity" to be protected. It is clear that the Program was designed to be inclusive, to encompass a broad range of resources and qualities, and to encourage and support the protection of these resources.
The Interim Policy that has served as the Program's administrative policy since 1995 takes the concepts of "intrinsic qualities" and "significance" a step further by defining the six statutory "qualities" and requiring that significance in at least one of these qualities must be demonstrated for a road to achieve National Scenic Byway designation, and in at least two of the qualities for All-American Road designation.
As the Program has evolved, FHWA has taken a more focused approach to implementing the Interim Policy by adding the requirement that nominations identify only one intrinsic quality for National Scenic Byway designation (two for All-American Road designation). The purpose of this is to encourage byway sponsors to focus on the most important attributes of their byways.