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Contact Congress to protect more of our scenic river heritage

Letter to the Editor

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and the Wild & Scenic National Rivers System. This historic piece of federal legislation sharply contrasted with the dam building and water diversion ethos that dominated policy decisions throughout much of the 20th Century. The law enables rivers to be protected in a free-flowing condition, while recognizing the outstanding remarkable values the water body and its immediate environment possess.

Eight rivers were initially protected in 1968. Half of those are in Idaho, and three out of the four are located in the Clearwater Basin of North Central Idaho: Lochsa River, Selway River and Middle Fork Clearwater. The other is the Middle Fork Salmon. That is an incredible statistic considering all the rivers in our country eligible for protection when the system was created!

Today, this law protects portions of the Saint Joe River and the main stem Salmon River, along with a few other rivers in the state.

Shockingly, there is not a single mile of water in the entire N. Fork Clearwater and S. Fork Clearwater included in our nation’s system. The same can be said for every mile of the Clearwater between Kooskia and Lewiston. Permanent protection for the lower Salmon River and its corridor remains elusive.

Fewer than 1 percent of all rivers in Idaho are protected under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. Only Congress can add more river segments to our national system. Contact them about passing legislation to protect more of our heritage!

Brett Haverstick



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