Clearwater basin overflows with Wild and Scenic candidates

For much of the past decade, Idaho Rivers United has worked to defend the Wild and Scenic rivers of the Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forests, where some of the finest wild rivers in the nation flow clean, clear and cold.

Starting in 2011 IRU went to federal court multiple times to help stop hundreds of the largest loads ever hauled on a highway from industrializing the Middle Fork of the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers, two of the nation's eight original Wild and Scenic rivers.

In 2016 and 2017, IRU returned to federal court to defend the Selway River from logging projects that were approved without enough consideration for the impacts they would have on the Selway River, another of the nation’s original eight Wild and Scenic rivers.

This fall we’re changing tack and in addition to continuing to defend existing Wild and Scenic rivers, we’re filing comments to encourage the Forest Service to protect more of the region’s unparalleled rivers.

IRU has engaged in the Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forests' forest planning process, in which the Forest Service proposes to evaluate hundreds of miles of candidate Wild and Scenic rivers for possible inclusion in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

“We’re proud to be Wild and Scenic experts in Idaho, and look forward to working with the Forest Service to identify deserving candidate rivers like Kelly Creek, Cayuse Creek, Storm Creek, Bargamin Creek and dozens of others,” said IRU Executive Director Kevin Lewis. “The Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forests are a treasure trove of amazing rivers.”

The land protected and managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater is considered some of the most pristine habitat in America for anadromous and resident fish species. The rivers are acclaimed cold-water habitat for fish and anglers. Protecting these rivers for current users and generations to come would ensure economic vitality for the region.

“Wild and Scenic rivers enrich Idaho with preserved habitat, water quality and in some cases one-of-a-kind recreational opportunities,” Lewis said. “Ensuring the protection of rivers is as important as protecting all public lands.”

IRU in September filed more than 50 pages of comments detailing hundreds of miles of candidate rivers on the forests. Please open the following documents to read more.