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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Washington’s Wild & Scenic Rivers



This November, five Washington State rivers are celebrating their anniversary of being designated as Wild & Scenic Rivers.  

On November 10, 1978, the Sauk, Suiattle, and Cascade Rivers of the Skagit River system were designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. This marked the first Wild and Scenic River designation in Washington since the passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Eight years later, on November 17, 1986, the Klickitat and lower White Salmon were added to Washington’s Wild and Scenic River system.

While we are excited to celebrate these anniversaries, they only make up approximately 200 miles of Washington’s Wild & Scenic River system. Compare this to the nearly 2,000 miles found in Oregon, and we have a long way to go to matching the Oregon’s Wild & Scenic River system. 
 
Luckily in Washington, the US Forest Service has found several thousand more miles of free flowing rivers eligible for WSR designation. WW and other river advocates are launching a concerted effort to focus on the hundreds of miles of eligible rivers in our state that deserve protections through Wild and Scenic designation.

Why is it so important for these rivers to be protected? Why should we celebrate the anniversary of the rivers that have already been protected?

These are questions that many people ask WW so we devoted our latest newsletter to answering them.  In our Fall 2012 Newsletter, we  discuss the importance of free flowing rivers and the efforts underway in Washington to expand our WSR system.   

In our main article, we interviewed 3 important conservationists from around Washington State to learn more about the benefits of our wild rivers, threats facing them, and how communities are working to protect them. Tim McNulty, local naturalist and author, discussed the vital role wild waters play in the natural world and the benefits they provide our communities, such as providing clean drinking water. Rich Bowers, Northwest Coordinator for the Hydropower Reform Coalition, discussed the biggest threat to our wild waters, dams. And Connie Gallant, board member of the Olympic Forest Coalition and chair of the Wild Olympics campaign, discussed advocacy efforts currently underway to designate 461 miles of rivers as Wild and Scenic on the Olympic Peninsula. 

To read this feature article from our Fall 2012 Newsletter, click here. The Newsletter also features an essay from rivers advocate, Doug North. You can also view a map of Washington Wilds current campaigns to protect wild waters , including the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers and rivers around the Olympic Peninsula and in the Volcano Country near Mount St. Helens.

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