IRU and national allies challenge forest's Wild and Scenic planning

Idaho Rivers United joined several national conservation groups today who cautioned the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests not to take lightly its responsibility to give due process and ongoing protection to all eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers.

The national forest has been examining candidate Wild and Scenic rivers as part of its forest-wide planning process and recently indicated that it may release candidate rivers from further Wild and Scenic consideration when the process concludes.

That’s not how the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act works.

“The Forest Service has indicated that through these suitability determinations it intends to release eligible rivers found not to be suitable from further protection or consideration,” IRU and its allies wrote. “This violates the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the 2012 Forest Planing Rule. The Forest Service cannot legally, and should not as matter of policy, use this suitability process to strip eligible wild and scenic rivers of their eligibility and related protections.”

In writing the letter, IRU is standing arm-in-arm with American Whitewater, American Rivers and the Outdoor Alliance, all groups that vehemently oppose the path charted by the Nez Perce-Clearwater.

“Unfortunately, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest has failed to live up to its obligations for Wild and Scenic planning over the past 30 years,” said IRU Executive Director Kevin Lewis. “The Lochsa, Selway and Middle Fork of the Clearwater rivers are among the crown jewels of America’s Wild and Scenic rivers. Other rivers in the region are among the best candidates for future Wild and Scenic designations, and the Forest Service should treat them accordingly rather than bend to local politics.”