ASHLEY NATIONAL FOREST WILD AND SCENIC RIVER ELIGIBILITY REPORT*
Your wild voice is needed!
One of the requirements of the just-started and on-going Ashley National Forest planning process (see HUPC LYNX 6/04) is to inventory potential rivers on the forest for inclusion under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA). In a two step process the forest must first determine which rives are eligible and then decide which rivers are suitable under the Act for designation by Congress.
A Bit of Background (see HUPC Newsletter 8/98 for a detailed discussion of the W&SRA)
In 1968 the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) became law. In 1998 there still is not a single mile of river designated under the WSRA in Utah!
Simply put, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act set a policy to preserve and protect selected rivers or segments and their immediate environments which possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values (ecological) in their free-flowing condition.
Free flowing is defined as flowing in a natural condition without impoundment, diversion or other kind of modifications of the actual waterway. A river below an impoundment can be designated as a wild or scenic river, for example.
A wild river (WR) is generally inaccessible by roads with primitive shorelines. A scenic river (SR) has a shoreline that is largely primitive, can be accessed by roads in places but isgenerally not paralleled by roads. A recreational river (RR) may be readily accessible by road and harbors some developments along the shoreline.
Outstandingly remarkable values are not defined in the WSRA. They are left to professional, informed judgment and public input. Values must be river-related, regionally (forest by forest, within a mt. range, for example) significant and rare, unique or exemplary.
Before designation the review process follows a general three-step process. Rivers must be determined to be:
- eligible—free-flowing and harbor an outstandingly remarkable value
- classified—wild, scenic or recreational
- suitable—a determination based on resource allocation and trade-offs later in the forest planning process.
Over 170 river segments comprising just over 11,000 miles nationwide have been afforded protection in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
The Ashley’s eligibility report is very hopeful and mirrors much of what we’ve proposed for many years. Remember, designation of a river as Wild and Scenic River is not solely a function of threats to the river but of the character of the river. Thus many of our most cherished wild and scenic rivers course through wilderness areas and other undeveloped landscapes. Furthermore, it is imperative that values of wild and scenic rivers be advanced well beyond recreational concerns. The ultimate value of these rivers are their biological and ecological.
Ashley National Forest Rivers found eligible:
High Uintas Wilderness
-Upper Lake Fork River—WR
-West Fork Rock Creek—WR
-Upper Uinta River and Tributaries—WR
-Upper Yellowstone Creek and Tributaries—WR
-Upper Rock Creek—WR
Many of the rest of these rivers are in secluded roadless/undeveloped areas
-Middle Main Sheep Creek—RR
-Lower Main Sheep Creek—RR
-Upper Whiterocks River—SR
-Middle Whiterocks River and Tributaries—WR
-West Fork Whiterocks River—SR
-East Fork Whiterocks River—SR
-Lower Whiterocks River—RR
-Lower Dry Fork Creek—RR
-South Fork Ashley Creek—WR
You can see maps and posters of all of these rivers at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/ashley/projects/forest_plan_revision/WSR/ashleywsrindex.shtml
Your wild voice may help!
• The primary problem with this proposal is that the Upper and East Fork Whiterocks River segments should have been classified as a WR similar to the Middle Fork Whiterocks. These two stream segments area within the roadless “bollies” adjacent to the High Uintas Wilderness. They possess the primary characteristic of a WR in that they are isolated, inaccessible by motorized recreation and within indisputable and expansive roadless country.
• The same is true for Black Canyon and the Ashley Gorge on the southeastern slope of the Uintas. Both long river segments course through some of the most inaccessible, mid-elevation, roadless country (about 30,000 acres) on the Ashley.
• Let the Ashley know that with the above changes you support this decent inventory!
Comments should be submitted by September 15 to:
Laura Jo West
Ashley National Forest
355 N. Vernal Ave
Vernal, UT 84078