Skagit Wild and Scenic Scoping
North Cascades National Park is currently revising the management plan for the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, which includes the lands and rivers along Highway 20 in the North Cascades. As part of this planning effort American Whitewater formally requested a review of rivers that may be eligible for Wild and Scenic designation.
The Park Service responded to our request and last month held scoping meetings and solicited public comment on the eligibility and suitability of the Skagit River from Goodell Creek to Copper Creek for Wild and Scenic designation. While the downstream section of the Skagit, which is popular for eagle floats, is designated as Wild and Scenic, what many paddlers do not know is that the well-known whitewater run upstream through the S Bends has no such protection. In fact this section was originally the site of a massive dam and hydropower project in the 1970's which would have inundated this run.
Paddlers were well represented at the scoping meetings and all participants were supportive of protecting this river. Several participants, including American Whitewater, commented on the need to consider scenery and recreation as outstanding remarkable values of regional significance.
While the deadline for scoping comments has passed the Park Service is still in the process of reviewing feedback and it is not too late to weigh in. If you have not done so already, please consider writing to the Superintendent (AW's comments are linked to this article). Over the next two years they will be conducting more public outreach and develop a specific proposal for river protection as part of the planning effort for the National Recreation Area. While there are no current plans to construct another dam on the Skagit River, the Park Service will use public support as a key factor in deciding whether to recommend this river for permanent protection in its free-flowing condition. For this reason it is extremely important that boaters who enjoy this reach weigh in.
Skagit Wild and Scenic River Eligibility and Suitability Studies
North Cascades National Park Service Complex
810 State Route 20
Sedro Woolley WA 98284-9918
or by email to: