article photo 1

Protection for Snake River Headwaters Proposed

Posted: 05/09/2007
by Kevin Colburn

Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) introduced legislation to protect the streams of the Snake River headwaters in Wyoming as Wild and Scenic Rivers on May 9th, 2007. The introduction of the "Snake Headwaters Legacy Act" is a major milestone in the protection of rivers located in Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding National Forests.

The legislation is primarily the product of a multi-year local grassroots effort known as the Campaign for the Snake Headwaters. Among the Leadership Committee of the Campaign for the Snake Headwaters is AW board member Aaron Pruzan. This group is made up of a diverse group of local citizens, businesses, anglers, boaters and conservationists who share a vision for permantent protection of the watershed that they live in.

In addition to significant ecological and recreational benefits, the Snake Headwaters Legacy Act will protect a thriving recreational ecomony that is dependent on the high quality of local rivers. Roughly 30 percent of the tourists that visit Jackson Hole spend some time fishing in the Snake Headwaters, and they contribute from $10 to $20 million annually to the local economy. Whitewater boating and rafting on the Snake River pump another $3.5 million into the local economy.

The legislation, if passed, would be the single largest addition to the nation’s Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 15 years. Senator Thomas’ bill, S. 1281, would protect 21 segments along 14 rivers and streams in Wyoming. Whitewater rivers that will be protected if the bill is passed include Greys, Hoback, Gros Ventre, and Snake rivers. A complete list of the rivers and streams can be found at http://www.snakeheadwaters.org/rivers/index.php. Wild and Scenic designation is the greatest protection for rivers afforded by federal law, forever protecting the free-flowing condition and outstanding values of our country’s most pristine rivers.

The Snake Headwaters Legacy Act has not yet become law and may benefit from your support. Paddlers with a connection to the Snake River should write, call, or email their political representatives in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and voice your support.

Kevin Colburn
Asheville, NC