"The great giveaway" did a great job of bringing attention to the Utah BLM's mad rush to finalize plans that manage 11 million acres in Utah (HCN, 10/13/08). Unfortunately, the article and most other news coverage of this issue overlooked what these plans mean for Utah's rivers.
These plans make recommendations on which rivers should be designated wild and scenic and which would not. Similar to the land issues, the BLM's recommendations are atrocious, and fall far short of providing real protection for Utah's spectacular rivers.
The BLM is recommending that only 4 percent of all the rivers in these 11 million acres should become wild and scenic rivers. Essentially this recommendation includes about 300 miles of the Green River, Colorado River and a handful of other short river segments. Over 1,000 miles of rivers that the BLM itself identified as qualifying for designation would not be protected, including the Dirty Devil River, White River, San Rafael River and the San Juan River.
Utah is a harsh political climate for environmentalists working for wild and scenic rivers and wilderness. However, we will keep plugging away to make sure that these plans are not finalized and that the BLM provides real protection for Utah's outstanding rivers.
River Solutions Coordinator
Utah Rivers Council
Salt Lake City, Utah