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113 Miles of River Protections Finalized in Colorado!

Posted: 07/09/2024
By: Kestrel Kunz

In June, we welcomed river protections for 22 new river segments across 113 river miles in Colorado’s western slope. American Whitewater has been advocating for durable river protections and smart recreation management on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) since 2016. We are happy to celebrate the end of the GMUG Forest Plan revision process with a number of hard earned wins.

The Forest Service, and other federal agencies, are required to inventory all rivers on public land to determine if they are eligible for Wild and Scenic River protections. Rivers are determined eligible if they have at least one outstandingly remarkable value, such as scenery or recreation, and if they are free-flowing. Eligible rivers, their values, and their free-flowing character are then required to be protected for the life of the management plan. The interim protections also set the stage for permanently designating Wild and Scenic Rivers through congress. The administrative eligibility protections remain one of our best tools to protect our country’s remaining wild rivers, of which western Colorado has many.

Newly protected rivers include Oh Be Joyful Creek, the Taylor River Canyon, the Uncompahgre Gorge, Anthracite Creek, and segments of the East River and San Miguel River. We also advocated for protections for Daisy Creek, the Slate River and the classic Upper East segment without success with the Forest Service. For all of these rivers we detailed their outstanding recreation opportunities with photos, trip reports, and hundreds of letters of support from the river community. 

Overall, American Whitewater is happy with the outcome for rivers in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, having protected some of Colorado’s most prized whitewater runs for at least the next 20 years. The success is in large part because of letters, stories, and photos that our members contributed to this effort.


Kestrel Kunz

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