Northern Idaho Wild and Scenic Comments Needed

posted August 28, 2017
by Kevin Colburn

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The Lochsa, Selway, Clearwater, and Salmon watersheds are special places for paddlers from around the world. These special rivers flow clean and cold, and boast thousands of miles of tributaries to explore. The Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests are writing a new Forest Plan and are asking the public to share thoughts on which rivers should be protected as "eligible" for future designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers. This is a terrific opportunity for paddlers to protect rivers by sharing comments and photos with the Forest Service, and it is really easy to do through the Agency's interactive map. 

The Forests have released a table of "preliminary" eligible Wild and Scenic rivers, and are asking for feedback on which deserve to be found eligible in their final plan. The rivers in the table are also on the story map. The Forests have included almost all of American Whitewater's recommendations in their "preliminary" list except for most noteably the Potlatch River.

To Take Action: Go to the Forests' Story Map, and click through the tabs to learn about the process. The final tab, #10, is where you can zoom in and check out which reaches (highlighted blue and named) the Forest Service is considering for protection. If you think a specific river merits protection, click on "+Submit a Comment," add your comment, and use the location icon to drop a point on the map that is relevant to your comment. Please consider adding photos, and speak to specific values. These comments will appear publicly on the map, and will be read by other would-be commenters. Commenting is a chance for you to be respectful and positive champions for rivers. It is easy and even, dare we say, kind of fun.

Also, Please submit a general comment asking: "Please do not to conduct a suitability analysis." Suitability is a study of political ripeness for designation that would strip protections from many eligible streams. County commissioners were reported in a newspaper article to have written: "We believe the suitability process would eliminate most of these rivers...” The Forest Service conducting a suitability analysis would mark a huge Agency shift away from honoring the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and all who love rivers.