A Big Win for Rivers in the Sierra & Sequoia National Forests (CA)!
The Sierra and Sequoia National Forests have released final forest land management plans containing protections for 498 miles of rivers found eligible for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Since 2013, American Whitewater has been engaged in this forest planning process with the goal of getting California's whitewater resources included in the eligibility inventory and recognized for their outstandingly remarkable values. As a tenet of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, managing agencies like the Forest Service (USFS) provide interim protections for eligible river's free flowing character and outstandingly remarkable values until they can be designated by Congress.
Outstandingly remarkable values, or ORV's, are rare, unique, or exemplary features that draw regional or national use to rivers. These values can be historic, wildlife or fish habitat and populations, geologic, recreational or scenic. Eligible rivers can also have more than one ORV. American Whitewater identified 16 watersheds with more than 228 river miles with outstanding whitewater recreation during the assessment and development period of these forest plans. Yet with the release of the draft plans in 2019, most of these river miles were either left off the eligibility inventory or an evaluation for their whitewater merits was never considered. Most troubling, in the Sierra National Forest plan, sections of Dinkey Creek including the iconic Waterfalls segment were left completely out of the inventory.
Fortunately, many of our AW members came to the rescue providing persuasive comments that led USFS staff to take another look at these rivers for the 2022 revision of their Plan. One exceptional presentation to the Sierra National Forest Supervisor came from Priscilla Macy, who helped highlight the National and International draw of Dinkey Creek. Many thanks go to the paddlers that contributed to Priscilla's presentation including Jacob Cruser, Paul Martzen, Darin McQuoid, Sam Swanson, Evan Smith, Dan McCain, Carson Lindsay, Bryon Dorr, Aniol Serrasolses, Daniel Brasuell, Dan Simenc and Nouria Newman!
Today, close to half of the total river miles contained in the National Wild & Scenic Eligibility Inventory for the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests will have protections in place for recreation including whitewater on these iconic runs:
- Brush Creek
- Dinkey Creek from Dinkey Dome to the Confluence of NF Kings
- Kings from Middle SF Confluence to Kirch Flat Campground
- NF Kings from above Whison Reservoir to Main Kings Confluence
- SF of the MF Tule from Camp Nelson to Springville/Globe
- Granite Creek from Strawberry Mine to Near Cassidy Trail
- MF San Joaquin Devil's Postpile National Monument to Mammoth Pool Reservoir
- SF San Joaquin from Florence Lake to Mammoth Pool
- San Joaquin Chawnankee Gorge, Mammoth Pool, & Horseshoe Bend
Download a full listing of eligible Wild & Scenic rivers provided in Appendix C of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Revision of the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests Land Management Plans.
Keep in mind the forest planning process for the Sierra & Sequoia National Forest will now go through a final review and objection process. American Whitewater will engage in this process to ensure the protections we secured in the final draft remain intact. A complete GIS map of the Sierra & Sequoia Forest Plan Revisions, which contains Wild & Scenic River layers, among other outdoor recreational interests can be found here.
For the latest on the Sierra & Sequoia NF planning go here.
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