Thursday, April 9, 2009
The Case for Wild & Scenic River Designation for The Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt River
Whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River (c/o Tom O’Keefe)
Few rivers anywhere in the country can match the quality of recreational, scenic, and ecological resources provided by the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and its major tributary, the Pratt River.
Whether it's a quiet fishing trip after work, a day out with friends on some of the most outstanding whitewater the region has to offer, or a weekend with the family in one of the most scenic river valleys in the country, these rivers are tremendous resources for our community. They are also an important source for clean water that sustains the culturally and biologically-significant fishery resources of the Snohomish River system.
Wild and Scenic River designation will ensure that the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers are forever protected – securing important habitat for fish and wildlife, protecting a quality recreational experience for current and future generations, and celebrating the community-based stewardship efforts that have resulted in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie valley being one of King County’s greatest natural assets.
Recommended for Protection
In 1990, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) recommended the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers to Congress for Wild and Scenic designation, noting their outstanding, regionally-significant recreation, fisheries, wildlife, geological and ecological values and “very high public support” for designation.
Benefits of Wild & Scenic Designation
• Protects the river’s free-flowing character, water quality and outstanding values
• Promotes river-friendly land use practices
• Protects important fish and wildlife habitat
• Protects existing, compatible uses of the river corridor including the quality of the recreational experience
• Promotes natural flood protection by protecting and restoring wetlands and floodplains, and by protecting a river’s natural flow and meandering channel
• Enhances the local community’s civic awareness and pride by having a nationally-recognized river in their backyard
What Designation Will Do
• Prohibit dams and other water projects that impair the free-flow of a river or its outstanding values.
• Establish a protected corridor extending ¼ mile from the high-water mark on both sides of the river.
• Encourage partnerships among landowners, river users, tribal nations and all levels of government to protect the river’s outstanding values.
• Bring river stakeholders together in a collaborative process to develop a river management plan, to be completed within three years of designation.
What designation Will Not Do
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act carries no authority to affect the zoning of private lands. At one time much of the Middle Fork and Pratt River valleys were privately owned, but today only a few small in- holdings remain along the Middle Fork Snoqualmie; all of the Pratt River is now in public ownership.