Earlier today, American Whitewater submitted comments on the Draft Comprehensive River Management Plan for the Wild and Scenic Rivers designated under the Craig Thomas Snake River Headwaters Act. The Park Service and US Fish and Wildife Service refused to even consider allowing visitors to float the new wild and scenic rivers in the draft plan, except on the two reaches where paddling was previously allowed.
Paddling was banned in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks in 1950 to prevent overfishing. Today, there are far better management tools to prevent overfishing that don't place unnecessary limits on visitors that just want to float a river. Rather than reconsider their outdated paddling policy, the Parks and Refuge simply claim that they don't have to under federal law, and choose not to.
In our comments we disagree. We point out that federal law and policy require the Park Service to give paddling a hard look along with other similar low impact activities. We encourage the Park Service to change course and view this process as an opportunity to grant their visitors a stronger connection to these incredible rivers through paddling. Furthermore, we are confident that the recreational monitoring and strict environmental standards proposed by the Parks would ensure that paddling would be a sustainable way for visitors to enjoy and experience these rivers.
If you feel that paddling on these Wild and Scenic Rivers deserves a hard look and a fair shake, please tell the Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service why. Commenting is easy and important. Personal comments about why you value these rivers and about your connection to rivers through paddling are helpful.
The Draft Environmental Assessment for the Snake River Headwaters Wild and Scenic Rivers dismissed any consideration of paddling from analysis in any alternative via a 3-page legal argument. This is the 3-page excerpt. The entire document can be read he
American Whitewater's comments on the draft Comprehensive River Management Plan for the Snake River Headwaters in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and the National Elk Refuge.