Will Colorado get a new wild and scenic river?

‘Deep Creek’s lower elevation intact ecosystem would contribute to diversity of the national Wild and Scenic River system …’

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After seven years of study, the U.S. Forest Service says Deep Creek, in noerthwestern Colorado, is suitable for wild and scenic status.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service says that Colorado’s Deep Creek, flowing out of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, meets all the criteria for designation as a wild and scenic river.

The agency finalized its determination last month under a decision signed by White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams, who explained that there no private lands within the Forest Service segment corridor, and that no existing water rights would not be affected by designation.

The Colorado Natural Heritage Program described Deep Creek as having one of the most pristine, intact canyon landscapes in Colorado, with several state and globally rare species.

“Deep Creek’s lower elevation intact ecosystem would contribute to diversity of the national Wild and Scenic River system,” Fitzwilliams wrote in the formal Record of Decision.

Local wilderness advocates first proposed a wild and scenic designation about 30 years ago, and there have been on and off efforts to designate the surrounding area as wilderness under legislation put forth by former Congressman Scott Mcinnis and  Congresswoman Diane Degette.

It will require an act of Congress to formally designate Deep Creek as a wild and scenic river. If that happens, Deep Creek would become only the second stream in Colorado, along with the Cache La Poudre, to get that status.

The Forest Service also studied suitability on two segments of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon but the suitability decision was deferred. Instead, those segments will be managed under a collaborative plan developed by Front Range and Western Slope water providers, recreation groups and water users.

According to the Forest Service, the stakeholder plan will protect the river’s scenic and recreational values but also provide more flexibility in managing the future of this complex river.

The Forest Service joined with the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado River Valley Field Office to analyze suitability for the sections of Deep Creek and the Colorado River on BLM lands as a part of the BLM’s Resource Management Plan Revision.

The Forest Service determination will not change the current management for either Deep Creek or the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon.

More information the Record of Decision is available on line at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43846. The Final Environmental Impact Statement and  the Final Suitability Study are available on line at:   http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/crvfo.html.

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