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Thread: National Wild and Scenic Rivers study

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default National Wild and Scenic Rivers study

    Hi folks,

    The other day I received a packet of information from the Department of the Interior / Fish and Wildlife Service / Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, concerning the study of several ANWR rivers for potential inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers program. Here is the list of rivers being studied:

    • Atigun River
    • Canning River
    • Marsh Fork-Canning River
    • East Fork- Chandalar River
    • Hulahula River
    • Jago River
    • Kongakut River
    • Okpilak River
    • Neruokpuk Lakes
    • Porcupine River


    The form I received is available online AT THIS LINK. I spoke with a person involved in this process and she indicated that members of the public may use this form to submit comments. More information about this process is available AT THIS LINK, for those interested.

    I hope our members will feel free to discuss this on our site as well, as many people from both the state and the federal side look at these threads, and are interested in what the public has to say.

    Also note that any information I could find on these rivers, that exists in either print or DVD resources, is listed ON THIS PAGE of my other website. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see a list of over 350 rivers that are featured in either print or DVD. If you are aware of other resources on these or other rivers, feel free to let me know and I will add those resources and rivers to the list.

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Member chriso's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting the link Mike. I've submitted opinions on a few other things like this and have always wondered why the "value" of "access" is always missing when studying alaskan rivers (well, all rivers for that matter, its just that "access" is more significant in a place like alaska where there are so few roads and such vast tracts of locked up lands) Anyway, I sure appreciate the opportunity to weigh in on this discussion and guess I'll have to select "other" to try explain that in a state with no roads, the rivers often serve as one of the only means to access these lands. Left in the hands of any federal entity, wild and scenic designation in most instances equates to access limitiations. Of course they'll try to pit the various user groups against one another so they can outlaw the first, limit the second, eliminate the third, charge the fourth, and as they get slowly whittled down, eventually lock up the tracts for only the government "stewards" themselves to see, and for the ultra-rich and famous.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Very interesting thread Mike. Thanks for sharing. Got three of them rivers on my to do list. Will be eager to hear if wild and scenic river designation will affect access. To my knowledge this has not been the case with rivers such as the Kobuk, Alatna, etc.. Either way, an interesting post and I will look forward to further contributions.


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I guess I don't see the point. This is a fed game that they can play down south. Our remote rivers are already wild scenic we don't need the feds meddling in it. All I see coming from this is more access restrictions. The Feds are well on their way to turning the state from our back yard playground into our "formal living room" where we are not even allowed to sit on the couch.

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Anybody have any links to articles regarding "Wild & Scenic" being bad? I'll admit my ignorance on this issue and always figured the designation was a good thing, but all of the above posts make me wonder. The Gulkana is slowing moving toward more restrictive access I'm afraid. The BLM is already (at least 2 years ago) requiring a river briefing and sign in.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    I have always thought that wild and scenic designation protected the river. Never heard of such status restricting access. Would welcome further thoughts either way of course. Below is what a quick google search revealed. Any other opinions?



    "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations."

    "What does a Wild & Scenic designation mean for the river and its community?

    A Wild & Scenic designation:

    Protects a river’s “outstandingly remarkable” values and free-flowing character
    Protects existing uses of the river
    Prohibits federally-licensed dams, and any other federally-assisted water resource project if the project would negatively impact the river’s outstanding values
    Establishes a quarter-mile protected corridor on both sides of the river
    Requires the creation of a cooperative river management plan that addresses resource protection, development of lands and facilities, user capacities, etc."

    From...

    http://www.americanrivers.org/our-wo...-it-means.html



    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chriso View Post
    Thanks for posting the link Mike. I've submitted opinions on a few other things like this and have always wondered why the "value" of "access" is always missing when studying alaskan rivers (well, all rivers for that matter, its just that "access" is more significant in a place like alaska where there are so few roads and such vast tracts of locked up lands) Anyway, I sure appreciate the opportunity to weigh in on this discussion and guess I'll have to select "other" to try explain that in a state with no roads, the rivers often serve as one of the only means to access these lands. Left in the hands of any federal entity, wild and scenic designation in most instances equates to access limitiations. Of course they'll try to pit the various user groups against one another so they can outlaw the first, limit the second, eliminate the third, charge the fourth, and as they get slowly whittled down, eventually lock up the tracts for only the government "stewards" themselves to see, and for the ultra-rich and famous.
    Has Ronald Reagan been reincarnated into Alaska Outdoor Forums very own chriso? You are right thats exactly what will happen. Why in Gods green earth would they need to make those rivers wild and scenic? Just a few people will actually ever see one of these rivers let alone even ever know about them.

  8. #8
    Member chriso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    A Wild & Scenic designation:
    Protects a river’s “outstandingly remarkable” values and free-flowing character
    -Dan
    Thanks for the compliment Fullbush, but I'm nowhere's near that... pleased to see some of his teachings show through though!

    For starters Dan, just this one snippet from the description... which boater (weather rafter, kayaker, jetboater etc) doesnt see all our rivers as "outstandingly remarkable"? I mean, every river I've been on in Alaska fits that bill, therefore making them eligible for inclusion. I know the federal managers see if that way and many view it as a way to ensure their right to keep it to themselves. Certainly as a way to justify their power over those who use the rivers. Is it a good justification for the federal government to take over control of our waterways, especially here in alaska where they serve so vitally as a link for access and commerce in a largely unroaded wilderness? Is it a good idea to give over one of the few rights supposedly protected for the states in the constitution just because a river is remarkable? I myself have been mesmerized by mere trickles of water for hours on end, and difficult and important as it is to manage them and ensure they dont get destroyed, polluted, and so on, I feel its a job not only best left to the states themselves, but constitutionally guaranteed.

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Mike

    Thank you as others have stated for posting the material it does pose a very interesting conversation. I have been called several times by the Coast Guard from our states capital inquiring into river usage on several rivers. I find it interesting they are double chipping information and looking for comments about several locations and usage to include incorporation into a certain designation. Make no mistake as some have already some what commented. This is a possible move toward additional restriction of access for Joe Public and or the associated businesses that operate in our waters. No Red Flags, No Conspiracy Theory, No Bull. Think about it in a larger theme. We have 1 percent control of our Lands i.e. State of Alaska the rest are either locked up Native Corp (not a bad thing) just a fact and or Federal Lands i.e. Locked up and under the control of the BLM or FWS. This particular designation is not required and if it is should be as stated by Chriso managed by the State of Alaska. Dang Must be time to Vote. :-)

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Does protection mean restricted access?

    Okay, this is for the folks who are suggesting that the Wild and Scenic designation will result in restricted access for hunters and fishermen. We already have 25 rivers that have been in this program for many years, so if this claim is true, we would certainly see those restrictions on those rivers. Some of them are in National Parks, and are therefore off-limits for hunting, however that has nothing to do with the WSR designation. What about the others? Here's the list:



    I'm not saying that what you are claiming is not true, and I am certainly not saying that the feds need more control up here. I'm as much a fan of state's rights as anyone else. All I'm doing is challenging you to prove that what you are saying is true. These rivers were studied back in the 1970's and were brought into the program in December 1980, as near as I can figure, during Jimmy Carter's presidency. That means that the feds have had thirty years to lock us out of these places, if that was their intention. I'd venture a guess that between all of us, we have floated, hunted, and fished all of these drainages (well, we haven't hunted the ones in the parks, I hope!). I'm not seeing the restrictions.

    When I read some of the provisions of this act, they seem to restrict DEVELOPMENT (dams, etc), rather than recreational use. The act seems to be designed to protect recreational use (including hunting and fishing).

    What's your take?

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    That is my understanding as well. Curious to hear any examples of restricted access associated with wild and scenic designation.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    i have experienced nothing but good things coming out of the wild and scenic river designations.

    blm conducted a survey regarding the delta w&sr about a year ago that I commented on. it had some interesting questions that seemed to have the goal of collecting data on possible conflicts in two areas, one being ATV use/ creation of new trails in the wild and scenic river corridor and was it detracting from enjoyment, or do you appreciate the new atv trails, and the other being large/numerous commercially guided groups on the river, and have you had negative interactions from that, or is it positive. Personally I have never experienced a negative experience due to either, and I said as much. There were also questions discussing options for an updated management plan, and asking for input.

    I think the wild and scenic river designation is largely designed to incorporate input from the recreational users of the area, to manage the area for the qualities that the users value.

    Once while floating I had the chance to talk with blm managers based in glennallen who were out on the river improving the portage with some volunteers. Talking with them was a very positive experience. For the recreational user, who desires these rivers to be managed primarily for the river user's sake, I believe this is a very good designation.

    What does anyone have to say about it that's bad? Seems like the same paranoid diarrhea unless anyone can raise some actual issues with this designation.

    Go look at what the state plans to do with the Chuitna if you think this sort of thing should just be left to the state.


    Thanks for the update mike.


    -andrew

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    This is all about restrictions and control of state property by the Fed govt. Frankly they have no business controlling state interests and should be stopped at every opportunity. Make no mistake this is about control, period!

    Here are the restrictions on the Gulkana: http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/data/gulka...cial_rules.pdf

    Lets say that 20 villagers or bush residents were going to travel down stream together for a pot latch. Under the rules of the Gulkana they would need written permission to do that as a group. Also no shooting across a body of water, yep, let that moose or bou go cause he is on the other side of the stream.

    Perhaps we can have a few more 70 something bush dwellers tackled and arrested on remote river banks by snowbird Fed law-dogs.

  14. #14

    Default Development is the biggest threat to rivers!

    Quote Originally Posted by andweav View Post
    i have experienced nothing but good things coming out of the wild and scenic river designations......Go look at what the state plans to do with the Chuitna if you think this sort of thing should just be left to the state.

    -andrew
    I tend to agree andweav on this one. IMHO the biggest long term threat to our recreational use of rivers is development. He mentions the Chuitna. In the last year or so we've also been hearing rumblings about reviving the Susitna Dam project. Personally, I prefer free flowing rivers, rather than big ponds behind dams.

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    This is about control. The purpose and orginal intent of the WSR was to save watersheds in the lower 48 as far back as 1968 it was needed and was not a bad thing. NWSR has 4 main players the BLM, FWS, Forsest Service and National Park Service and all have very outstanding qualities in their own right however as some of the people in AK to include our own ADF&G those agencies in quesiton tend to overstep their authority concerning Game Management inclduding Fisheries as well as limited entry systems to include Big Game Guiding and Guided Fishing. Point in case if you happen to be a business owner let's use Blue Moose Rafting as an example that was no hurt feelings and I wish to use BLM land to shoot a video just a 5 minute shoot for the purpose of properly unloading Super Cub with a inflatable to use down the road as an instructional video. I happen to be going up to one of those on my personal time to go fishing just me no guiding to one of the rivers mentioned included in the program. I have to permit with that agency or face a fine and or be banned from ever being allowed to operate a commercial operation such as guiding if I use that footage. This includes several other hoop jumping events up to having a EA accomplished to ensure I do not damage the environment while filming me unloading a plane. Control, Control Control and of course USER FEES for all commercial users and up to potential lottery systems to issue permits for joe average.

    Any time you have for Federal Agencies in control of "YOUR" resources you should expect additional restrictions.

    Just saying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    All I see coming from this is more access restrictions.
    That was one of my first questions for Mike; what are the ramifications of a w&sr listing? This can't be good, like Lujon stated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andweav View Post
    Go look at what the state plans to do with the Chuitna if you think this sort of thing should just be left to the state.
    -andrew
    Yea, but can you name 25 rivers with coal development projects near them?

    Another designation can't be good. Gee, how many W& SRs are in Parks/Preserves already?

    Tim

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    My personal experience with Wild and Scenic is not good. Several years ago I lived in the area of the Clarks Forks of The Yellowstone when it was declared Wild and Scenic. There was a few houses/cabins on this upper section, 2 ranches, one in the middle, one at the end and the restrictions that was put on personal property was basically you had to get permission before you could do anything on your own land, including build, sell or change of any kind. Every thing had to be approved by the Feds and this would take years, be very costly (lawyers/court) and most people could not afford this. The one ranch that was on the lower end of the river had access to the ranch by a very ruff 4x4 trail that had been in use since the 50's. 2 years ago they closed this trail to all use including the ranch. The ranch went to court and got limited access, all others still locked out. There was about a 15 mile section of river that people fished using 4 wheelers for access, no more. This road had been there for around 60 years and they just closed it down. Once they get the Wild and Scenic designation they will slowly take all access away from the general public. In my opinion the main reason for Wild and Scenic designation is to restrict the general public use of the designated area. During the first stages of the designation they do not talk about all the restriction that will come after it is designated Wild and Scenic. Ask me if I'm bitter about this "You Dam Right I Am" I'm very bitter/hostile about anymore Federal control of our land. Any more rules or regulation should be made by the local users and not someone from California or DC. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    I certainly can't say what is and what is not. However, I did get an email reply today from "the feds". The reply quite simply was that there is nothing about designating a river wild and scenic that would limit recreational access to said river. Below is some information you can read if you choose. I was told to read the below pdf, specifically pages 37-44 as it pertains to access.


    Under "Technical Reports of the Council" read...

    "A Compendium of Questions & Answers Relating to Wild & Scenic Rivers (317 KB PDF) — Everything you wanted to know about wild and scenic rivers in a Q&A format."

    On this website...

    http://www.rivers.gov/publications.html#reports



    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member chriso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueMoose View Post
    This is about control. The purpose and orginal intent of the WSR was to save watersheds in the lower 48 as far back as 1968 it was needed and was not a bad thing. NWSR has 4 main players the BLM, FWS, Forsest Service and National Park Service and all have very outstanding qualities in their own right however as some of the people in AK to include our own ADF&G those agencies in quesiton tend to overstep their authority concerning Game Management inclduding Fisheries as well as limited entry systems to include Big Game Guiding and Guided Fishing. Point in case if you happen to be a business owner let's use Blue Moose Rafting as an example that was no hurt feelings and I wish to use BLM land to shoot a video just a 5 minute shoot for the purpose of properly unloading Super Cub with a inflatable to use down the road as an instructional video. I happen to be going up to one of those on my personal time to go fishing just me no guiding to one of the rivers mentioned included in the program. I have to permit with that agency or face a fine and or be banned from ever being allowed to operate a commercial operation such as guiding if I use that footage. This includes several other hoop jumping events up to having a EA accomplished to ensure I do not damage the environment while filming me unloading a plane. Control, Control Control and of course USER FEES for all commercial users and up to potential lottery systems to issue permits for joe average.

    Any time you have for Federal Agencies in control of "YOUR" resources you should expect additional restrictions.

    Just saying.
    This example is 100% spot on... furthermore, did you know these same conditions exist even on rivers that have been "selected for possible inclusion". Any of the agencies can add a river to their "selected" list merely from having some one of their staff write a paper describing some "outstandingly remarkable characteristics". Supposedly, congress has a 3 year period to act on therecommendation, most of the "selected for possible inclusion" rivers in alaska have had such status for over 10 years with congress having not acted on it, and the federal managers insisting they "must manage" as if it were in fact a W&SR because someday congress "might" deside to confirm it.
    I maintain that most of the rivers issues we have "not" been aware of are largely becuase of the vast expansiveness of our waterways and the limited sie of our population / user base. However there are signs around us becoming more and more apparent every day. If they become convinced the rivers need management, they start studying and applying restrictions through the "public process" which means that they can call some meetings in Anuktuvik Pass or something of that nature, and you and I dont even know they've passed restrictions on alaskan rivers. The first restrictions are generally the type which pit user group against user group. And at first they dont seem all that restrictive until until you see any kind of use increase. Then you find that someone who is not even educated in any kind of river management science, arbitrarily designated your river as a "trail" and the feds have studies "proving" that on a "trail" if one sees more than 14 parties on the river in a day it "ruins their experience". I guess Alaskan access needs must always be restricted to the equivilant of a "trail" with passage only sufficient to accomodate 14 parties per day, whereas the rest of the us has highways with campgrounds, scenic pulloffs, and so on, such that Americans can enjoy and partake of te wonders of our park lands and rivers.

    Of course, the first user group they will restrict is the commercial ones... largely by keeping any from becoming established, and then eventually by regulating any existing ones out of business... (unless they happen to be the AK RR which seems to have a sweetheat deal cooking with the feds on all kinds of levels.)

    Along with that, I'd really be curious to know how many river management plans already specifically restrict access with hovercrafts? And airboats? They usually get them first because they are a small group and easily slapped aside.

    Next is powerboats, eventually they'll get around to something like the colorado where even non motorized users have to take turns.

    I know that its a fact that some of our rivers will eventually see use levels rise to the point where we may need to take turns on the water, thats a fact. And if its inevitalbe, then we must learn to share the water with one another with decency and safety, unlike some of the uproars we read about in the lower 48 where power boaters and rafters are slugging it out at the boat ramps.

    The Kenai and Gulkana are a couple closer to home exmples of rivers with increased activity levels. BUT, if we all knew that was the end result, we might be more careful when we respond to those phony surveys with the skewed questions on them... "on the river today, do you think you encountered: A) Too many other boats B) Just the right amount of boats C) Not enough boats.....

    I know my answer would be a lot different if I know I might have to prematurely give up my turn on the water....

    By the way Dan, I'm not surprised they responded that way to you, there truly isnt any "requirement" and I dont even think anywhere in there did I ever come across the words "restrict access" anywhere... so they told you the truth. But, "capacity studies", "launch restrictions", "trail designation"... things of that nature, are the places wherein you discover they've taken the river from the state and its people, as well as the very people they claim to represent evne in their name... "National... W&SR"

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