Tag Archives: Wild and Scenic Rivers

Amusing Monday: celebrating the nation’s wild and scenic rivers

The value and enjoyment of rivers throughout the United States will be highlighted over the next year, as the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act approaches its 50th anniversary on Oct. 2, 2018.

Some 12,700 miles of rushing waters are protected on 208 rivers designated in 40 states plus the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. A Wild and Scenic River designation is the strongest protection for rivers in our country, safeguarding clean water, recreation, fish and wildlife, and cultural heritage, according to American Rivers, an environmental group focused on river protection. Check out the webpage “Why do we need wild rivers?”

“Free-flowing rivers create natural riparian areas that foster healthy, abundant, and diverse wildlife and are the centerpieces of rich ecological processes,” according to a news release from the National Parks Service. “Recreationally, free-flowing rivers offer unparalleled inspirational experiences from challenging whitewater to placid fishing. Through the arterial connections of rivers to communities, we all live downstream of a Wild and Scenic River.”

The first video on this page, called “Make Your Splash,” celebrates a family enjoying water recreation. It was produced by the Park Service in conjunction with three other federal agencies and several nonprofit organizations.

To call attention to the importance of wild rivers, American Rivers has launched a program called “5,000 Miles of Wild” with the goal of putting an additional 5,000 miles of wild rivers into protected status.

As part of the effort, the organization is working to collect 5,000 stories from people around the country who have a place in their hearts for special rivers, as explained in “About the campaign.” The second video, “5,000 miles of wild,” promotes the campaign.

I think you will enjoy the personal stories about rivers and the photos submitted to the page “My River Story.”

I would like to see more submissions from people in Washington state, because we have some of the most beautiful and productive rivers in the U.S., and I know there are many personal connections to these special places. Among the Washington folks submitting stories is Paul Cain of Bow, who applauds the efforts of state fish and wildlife officers in an encounter along Samish River in North Puget Sound. Also, Peggy File talks about growing up on the Skagit River, one of the rivers designated wild and scenic.

Former President Jimmy Carter offers a testimonial about taking his own life into his hands on the Chattooga River, which flows from North Carolina into Georgia. The powerful river, he said, “kind of opened my eyes to a relationship between a human being and a wild river that I had never contemplated before.”

As president, Carter said he vetoed about 16 different dam projects throughout the country, because he believed they were counterproductive to the well-being of Americans.

American Rivers has compiled a list of rivers that warrant protection on its page “What is the 5,000 Miles of Wild campaign?” In Washington, protections are proposed for 688 miles of rivers in the North Cascades, including the Nooksack River, and 454 miles of rivers in the Olympic Mountains (Wild Olympics Campaign).

Fiftieth anniversary water bottle, Cafe Press

For existing wild and scenic rivers, take a look at the U.S. map or the map of Washington state. Other information is compiled on a government website called “National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.” The website also has a page with information about the 50th anniversary celebration. One can even purchase a variety of clothing and products showing off the 50th anniversary logo from Cafe Press.

An audio project by American Rivers was composed by intern Annemarie Lewis, who worked this past summer in the Colorado River Basin. She talks about culture, history and science of rivers, as related by a variety of people closely connected to this issue. The project is called “We are rivers: Conversations about the rivers that connect us.”

Speaking of American Rivers projects, I got a kick out of a video completed in 2015 called “50 Favorite Things We Love about Rivers.” See Water Ways, Feb. 23, 2015.

Dicks, Murray embrace Olympics wilderness plan

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray have announced their support for a plan that would add 130,000 acres of land to wilderness areas in Olympic National Forest, designate 23 rivers as “wild and scenic” and open the door to adding 20,000 acres to Olympic National Park.

This map shows areas proposed for public wilderness, park and river designations. / Click on image for full map (PDF 10.6 mb).

As I describe in a story in today’s Kitsap Sun, the proposal is based on a plan put forth by a coalition of 10 conservation groups called Wild Olympics.

Connie Gallant, chairwoman of Wild Olympics, told me that the group has been working with stakeholder and community groups to consolidate support on the Olympic Peninsula. Quoting Gallant’s statement on the website:

“Over the past two years, Wild Olympics has been reaching out to Peninsula communities to build support from diverse local voices, listen to concerns and get feedback on our draft proposal. More than 4,500 Peninsula residents have signed our petition, and nearly 200 Peninsula businesses, farms, faith leaders, hunting and fishing groups, elected officials, conservation and civic groups support Wild Olympics.”

It is not obvious that wilderness is a true water issue — the focus of this blog — but Bill Taylor, vice president of Taylor Shellfish Farms, is fairly convincing:

“The two largest shellfish hatcheries that supply seed to the West Coast industry are located on Hood Canal. Well over 150 jobs are provided in Hood Canal alone by the industry, not including the indirect jobs such as processing, sales and shipping. By protecting Olympic Peninsula forest and river watersheds, we ensure clean and safe water so that shellfish companies can continue to grow and further benefit the economy and ecology of Washington state.”

The above is one testimonial on the Wild Olympics website, which also includes statements by Bremerton’s Mike Hank of Veterans Conservation Corps, Mayor Michelle Sandoval of Port Townsend, Sequim author Tim McNulty of Olympic Park Associates, Hoodsport’s Ron Gold of RG Forestry Consultants, Aberdeen’s Roy Nott of Paneltech and Gardiner’s Dave Bailey of Greywolf Fly Fishing Club and Trout Unlimited.

Wild Olympics was started by Olympic Park Associates, Olympic Forest Coalition, Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society and North Olympic Group – Sierra Club. Added later were Washington Wilderness Coalition, The Mountaineers, Pew Environment Group, Sierra Club, American Rivers and American Whitewater.

To counteract the work of the Wild Olympics Campaign, Dan Boeholt of Aberdeen founded Working Wild Olympics, because he does not believe wilderness designations will be helpful.

“We’re arguing that if you put these lands into wilderness, it will restrict public access,” Boeholt told me. “There are miles and miles of roads that would be affected.”

Dicks and Murray say they will propose specific legislation after listening to the public. These meetings have been scheduled:

Port Townsend: Dec. 1, 5 to 7 p.m., Chapel Building, Fort Worden State Park Conference Center.

Shelton: Dec. 2, 5 to 7 p.m., Shelton Civic Center, 525 W. Cota Street.

Port Angeles: Dec. 3, 3 to 5 p.m., Museum at the Carnegie, 207 S. Lincoln St.

Hoquiam: Dec. 4, 3 to 5 p.m., Central Elementary School Library, 310 Simpson Ave.