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A Big Win for River Protections in Arizona!

Posted: 05/22/2022
By: Kestrel Kunz

The Tonto National Forest in Arizona will receive robust protections for some of Arizona’s finest rivers. The Final Land Management Plan for the Forest was released this Spring and we are celebrating a big win for rivers. The Tonto National Forest is home to rivers like the multi-day section of the Salt River, the Verde River, and steep waterfall runs like Christopher Creek.


American Whitewater and our partners worked to advocate for more protections for these rivers and for improved management of the Forest’s cherished landscapes. We submitted substantive evidence in support of Wild and Scenic eligibility protections on Tonto Forest’s rivers and creeks, highlighting the unique and diverse paddling opportunities that occur on these wild public lands. We also collected numerous comments from our members, the people that know and love these rivers the most. Alongside other conservation and recreation groups, we also met directly with the Forest Service staff to advocate for these rivers and landscapes.


The Final Plan protects numerous rivers and creeks as eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. While not the same as a designated Wild and Scenic River, Wild and Scenic eligibility requires the Forest Service to protect these rivers for their free-flow character and their identified values. The plan has identified 188 total river miles as eligible and 134 of those miles have high quality boating opportunities. Eligibility protections on boating segments include the Salt River, the East Fork and main stem of the Verde Rivers, Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, and Salome Creek. These rivers will be protected under the plan for the enjoyment of paddlers and for the surrounding environments that they nourish. The Final Plan still needs to be signed by the Forest Supervisor, and we encourage them to do so promptly.


If you appreciate the work that we do and want to help us celebrate this big win for Arizona’s rivers, please consider joining American Whitewater or donating today!

Photo Credit: Salt River, Evan Stafford

Kestrel Kunz

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