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Forest Service continues move to strip protections of Lochsa Area streams

Posted: 01/09/2020
by Kevin Colburn

Just before the holidays this past December, the Forest Service released their Draft Forest Plan and accompanying analysis, which covers a whitewater and native-fish paradise in central Idaho. The Forest encompasses the Lochsa, Selway, Clearwater, and Potlatch watersheds, and also a portion of the Salmon River drainage. In the Draft Plan the Forest Service proposes to eliminate Wild and Scenic protections from most or all of the 89 streams they have found to be eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. The Forest Service cites political reasons for taking this step, and did not respond to American Whitewater's prior comments that stressed that such a move would be illegal and not in the public interest.

At the last stage of the planning process hundreds of paddlers sent comments to the Forest Service asking that all 89 eligible streams be protected, as is the normal practice for the Forest Service. The Forest Service flatly ignored these comments, and failed to even consider full protection as an alternative in their analysis. Instead, they misapplied a political process they call, "Suitability," to remove Wild and Scenic protections for eligible streams. In addition, the analysis supporting the Draft Plan is crafted in a way that obscures the impacts of - and opposition to - their strategy for reducing river protections.

You can help reverse this bad direction the Forest Service is heading in:

If you live in Idaho or Montana, consider going to one of the public meetings scheduled between early January and late February.

Submit a comment letter asking for full and enduring protection of all streams found eligible in the Draft Plan as eligible and/or suitable for Wild and Scenic designation. None of their alternatives are acceptable, and tell them so. Speak to the specific rivers you know and love best. You can see the table of eligible streams on page 274 of their Wild and Scenic flawed analysis.  

American Whitewater is conducting a deeper review of the Draft Plan and will work with partners to craft detailed comments. The comment window is 90-days long, and we'll remind you again that comments are needed as we approach that deadline. After that, it usually takes 9 months for the Forest Service to release their Final Forest Plan. 

How to Comment:

Direct through the Forest Service portal.

By Mail to Zach Peterson, Forest Planner, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

Supervisor's Office, 903 3rd Street, Kamiah, ID 83536

More info on commenting.

Template for use commenting - However, if you have a few extra moments please personalize your message with a bit about yourself, your experience with these rivers, and any specific opinions you have that support continued protection of the streams listed as eligible in the Draft Forest Plan. Thanks for taking action to protect Idaho whitewater today!

Dear Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest, 

I am writing to ask that all 89 streams that you have found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation remain protected as eligible in the new forest plan, and to voice support for their designation. I ask that you protect these streams as eligible by withdrawing your proposed suitability determinations from all alternatives in your draft analysis and plan. Alternately, you could simply maintain eligibility protections for streams you find unsuitable. My interest in wild rivers is not met or even considered by the Draft Plan in any alternative. Even the best alternative removes eligibility protections from over half of the streams you've found eligible, and thus the range of alternatives is too narrow. 

Thank you for considering these comments.



Kevin Colburn
Asheville, NC