From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 18 - July 28, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wild and scenic Snake?

A coalition of groups has begun an organized campaign to permanently protect major portions of Wyoming's Snake River drainage under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system.

According to organizers, "Our primary goal is to convince Congress to pass Wild & Scenic Rivers legislation for the Snake Headwaters by the end of 2006."

The Snake River Fund noted: "The Snake Headwaters, which drain much of the spectacular country surrounding Jackson Hole, include such legendary rivers as the Snake, Lewis, Buffalo Fork, Gros Ventre, Hoback, Greys, and Salt rivers as well as several locally cherished tributary streams such as Crystal Creek and Granite Creek."

River advocates seek protective designations for segments of 19 individual rivers in the drainage, for a total of 460 river miles, including:

1. Salt River
2. Swift Creek
3. Greys River/Box Canyon Creek
4. Greys River/Marten Creek
5. Greys River
6. Greys River/Little Greys River
7. Little Greys River
8. Hoback River
9. Cliff Creek
10. Willow Creek
11. Snake River/Wolf Creek
12. Snake River/Bailey Creek
13. Snake River/Hoback River
14. Hoback River/Granite Creek
15. Granite Creek (upper)
16. Crystal Creek
17. Gros Ventre River (upper)
18. Gros Ventre River (mid)
19. Gros Ventre River (lower)
20. Buffalo Fork/Blackrock Creek
21. Buffalo Fork/Blackrock Creek
22. South Buffalo Fork
23. North Buffalo Fork/Soda Creek
24. Pacific Creek
25. Pacific Creek
26. Lewis River/Snake River
27. Lewis River (upper)
28. Snake River
29. Snake River

The Wild and Scenic Campaign for the Snake Headwaters began at an autumn 2003 meeting in Jackson between a dozen conservation groups. Members of the Steering Committee for the Campaign for the Snake Headwaters include American Wildlands, American Rivers, American Whitewater, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jackson Hole Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and Snake River Fund.

The Wild and Scenic Act established a system to designate rivers for preservation that had certain outstanding values. Specifically, it stated:" 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."

According to the Campaign For the Snake Headwaters: "Wild and scenic designation would ensure that the many forms of development that are occurring in northwest Wyoming do not compromise the existing character of designated rivers and streams. For example, any oil and gas development that might occur on the Bridger Teton National Forest would not be allowed to degrade designated rivers or streams. Likewise, major highway and bridge construction projects could not compromise the free-flowing nature of designated rivers and streams. As for the longer term future, wild and scenic designation would ensure that no new dams or other harmful water development projects are constructed on designated rivers."

Earlier this year, Senator Craig Thomas gave a boost to river proponents gathered at the Summit on the Snake. In a letter to the group, Thomas said: "Because the vast majority of the river and stream segments in the Snake Headwaters that have been found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation flow across public lands, there may be a unique opportunity to benefit from the Act while avoiding potential conflicts with private landowners. Because of this special circumstance and because of my great love for Wyoming's incomparable landscape, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act designation for portions of the Snake River headwaters is something that needs to be discussed."

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