Western North Carolina contains the highest mountains in the eastern US, extraordinary rainfall, and globally significant biodiversity. The water gushing from the region's mountains has attracted dam builders for well over a century, and currently the region has almost 400 dams. And yet, only the Chattooga River, and sections of Wilson Creek and the Horsepasture River are permanently protected as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Forest Service now offers interim protection for a scant 7 more streams as “eligible” for Wild and Scenic designation. American Whitewater is working with local groups to change that.
In 2014 we began working with the Nantahala-Pisgah Partnership to develop collaborative recommendations to the North Carolina National Forests as they are updating their Forest Plan. As part of the planning process the must take a fresh look at which streams on Forest Service lands are “eligible” for Wild and Scenic designation. Eligible stream reaches are free flowing and have at least one unique, rare, or exemplary value that is nationally or regionally significant. American Whitewater conducted our own eligibility and recommended that the following streams be found eligible: