AW Objects to Faulty Wild and Scenic Analysis in MT & ID
American Whitewater recently filed formal objections to proposed Forest Plans for the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, and the Kootenai National Forest in Montana. The objections assert that the Forest Service ignored their own policies and the facts before them when they determined many spectacular whitewater rivers are not eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. The Forest Service has until late February to respond to our objections.
Eligibility for Wild and Scenic designation requires that rivers be protected from dams and other significant impacts, and is a vital tool for protecting our nation's last best rivers. American Whitewater, joined by our partner American Rivers for the Kootenai objection, are working across the country to bring a consistent and rigorous approach to determining which rivers should be found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation.
Prior to filing our objections we created our own well-researched eligibility inventories to help the Forest Service with their analysis. We presented this analysis, and met with the agency at the Forest, Regional, and National level to discuss our data, opinions, and concerns with the agency's approach. We filed detailed comments on the draft forest plans. All our efforts fell on deaf ears - the agency's final Forest Plans mirrored their draft plans and past plans from years ago.
The objection process is similar to an appeal, and is the formal way to have a bad decision reviewed and overturned without needing to go to court. Our objections will be reviewed by the Washington Office of the US Forest Service. Both objections and eligibility reports can be downloaded from the links to the right of this article, and are the result of a team effort involving great volunteers and partners.
If we are successful we will bring vital protection to rivers like Boundary Creek and Boulder Creek in Idaho that were recently threatened by proposed hydropower projects, as well as other classic paddling runs on Cow Creek (ID), Slate Creek (ID), Marble Creek (ID), and many more.