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ON THE RIVERBANK WITH THE ASHLEY

by LYNX Editor Margaret Pettis

Under a stunningly blue sky just a stone's throw from the rushing current of Dry Fork, HUPC board member Connie Bullis and I met with Ashley National Forest rangers, planners, Uinta Basin officials and two other conservationists to discuss the Forest's future plans for its Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Report. We were pleased to support the agency as we noted some changes for the better (as suggested by HUPC) in its list of 320+ miles of recommended Wild and Scenic Rivers on the forest.

Asserting that there is a valid place and public support for wild rivers, we countered opposition by local county representatives based on growth and its partner, thirst. While local county officials are demanding the inventory be reduced, we are standing firm in support of wildness.

At least the county folks heard that many citizens find intrinsic value in wild rivers not just another stretch to divert, dam, pump, enclose, or cross. One could not help but feel the heady surge in oil and gas development and influx of workers south of the range... and, once again, its looming pressure on all that is undeveloped!

We gathered at a hard-hit fire ring at the trailhead for a bit of lunch, then bade farewell to the county folks who left when we hiked with the Forest Service up to an historic flume site. A flurry of wildflowers lined the old structures that offer yet another reason for protecting these unique river courses for their natural value of clear, clean water and unfettered banks/forest community.

We appreciated meeting with the agency, but assert that talk can be cheap. When we are invited to discuss these projects with the Forest Service, who supposedly will gather, value and use our input, then find our voice unheeded, we find our participation is pointless. At this point, the Forest Service appears to be firmly on the side of protecting qualifying stretches of wild rivers.


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