Public Comment Being Taken on BLM Wild and Scenic River Inventory
The hard work and controversy has been going on for months now.
As first reported in the Sun Advocate in November of 2002, the Bureau of Land Management has been doing a preliminary eligibility report as to what streams to include and how to tentatively classify them to fit into the Wild and Scenic Rivers designation.
In addition, Carbon County has had two planning and zoning employees working in conjunction with the BLM, mainly to keep county government up to date as to what has been happening in the study and inventory.
The act is one of the most important and impacting pieces of conservation law ever enacted. It is complex with provisions affecting many kinds of resources including water and water quality, minerals, agriculture, livestock grazing, fisheries and recreation.
To complicate the act even further, there are no less than five federal agencies that are responsible for implementing it, including the BLM, the primary agency that is working on the eastern Utah waterways.
The act, originally passed in 1968, declared a national policy to preserve certain rivers and their immediate environments, maintain free flowing conditions, protect water quality and fulfill other conservation purposes.
The original law designated 156 specific waterways to be covered by the act. Since then others have been designated for study by the secretary of interior, as per the provisions of the law. The federal guideline includes normal agency planning processes in conjunction with their responsibilities.
The total number of rivers so designated for either wild, scenic or recreational now number 168 with more, which includes those in eastern Utah, under study.
In the consideration or review process that has been going on, eligible rivers are given a tentative classification. The act provides three possible classifications: wild, scenic, or recreational. These classifications are based on the type and degree of human development associated with the river and adjacent lands present at the time the inventory is taken.
Also prescribed in this step is what management activities would be allowed to occur along a river, as long as no outstandingly remarkable value is compromised.
Of the classifications, the wild classification is most restrictive of management activities, while the recreation classification is least restrictive, allowing for some development to occur. The final classification is determined if and when a river is designated into the national system by Congress.
A river can be deemed eligible by having any one or more of several outstanding remarkable values or ORVs. The values are identified in the act as scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar items.
Other unique items may be considered based on the professional judgment of agency officials. At this point the Price Field Office has made a preliminary review of eligible rivers and streams based on information provided during public scoping, independent inventories, coordination with other government entities, and an interdisciplinary review.
Rivers or river segments determined to be eligible during this initial step of the study process will be analyzed in the RMP EIS to determine if they are suitable to be recommended for Wild and Scenic Rivers designation. If found to be suitable, those rivers and streams are then recommended to Congress for designation as a Wild and Scenic River. As stated above, BLM is conducting this review as a part of the resource management planning process. Residents who have any questions or would like additional information on this inventory can contact Brad Higdon or Floyd Johnson at 435-636-3600. Please send any comments by March 28, 2003 to the Bureau of Land Management Price Field Office, Wild and Scenic Rivers Program,125 South 600 West Price, UT 84501