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WHAT HAPPENED TO UTAH’S WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS?

Back in April we once again updated the saga of the Forest Service Wild and Scenic River (WS&R) environmental analysis (see HUPC LYNX, 4/09). Starting with 86 eligible river segments (840 miles) statewide (43 river segments and 497 miles on the Uintas!), under the guidance of the National Wild and Scenic River System (NW&SRS), Utah national forests whittled the proposal down to 24 river segments, 212 miles statewide (11 river segments, 131 miles on the Uintas) in the November ’07 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This was followed by a simple ripping of the soul of the proposals with a Final EIS recommendation (11/08) of only 10 river segments (108 miles) statewide (4 rivers and 71 miles on the Uintas). Conservationists filed appeals and the Forest Service casually dismissed all of these appeals in July.

In spite of clear evidence presented in the Forest Service EIS that only three river segments in Utah had actual conflicts associated with designating a river under the NW&SRS, the agency succumbed to the lowest common denominator, recommending only rivers supported by local county officials--the stated rationale of the Forest Service proposed alternative.

It isn’t possible to shame the shameless. Nor was it possible to engage a meaningful discussion with the Forest Service in this instance since the decision had been made early on to trivialize Wild and Scenic Rivers and the process and to resolutely ignore our voice. This wasn’t ever a matter of honest debate and difference of opinion.

Dick Carter


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