The ‘wild and scenic’ Blue River?
Vail CO, Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY – Local anglers and boaters no doubt already appreciate the wild and scenic qualities associated with the Blue River north of Green Mountain Reservoir, as well as the magnificent canyon country of the Upper Colorado.
But significant sections of those streams are getting a whole new level of recognition through a formal study conducted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). A new report identifies parts of the Blue and Colorado as eligible for wild and scenic river status, based on “outstanding remarkable values and the free-flowing nature of the rivers.
It may be surprising, given the number of beautiful waterways, but Colorado only has one formally designated wild and scenic river – a 30-mile section of the Cache La Poudre between Rocky Mountain National Park and Fort Collins.
But the latest study by the BLM only sets the stage for wild and scenic river status, which must be designated by Congress.
“It’s a long process,” said Joe Stout, the BLM planner leading the effort out of the Kremmling field office.
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But even just the fact that they are eligible immediately gives those waters some level of interim protection. The BLM must now manage them to maintain those outstanding qualities identfied by the study, Stout said.
Stout said that several sections of the Blue River between Green Mountain Reservoir and the Colorado River are eligible, as is the heavily used section of the Colorado between Gore Canyon and State Bridge Lodge, visited by 40,000 to 50,000 people per year.
The next phase of the study is a suitability analysis. This is when the BLM, with plenty of public input, tries to figure out if they can manage the river reaches in question in accordance with the high standards of the Wild Scenic River designation.
For the full wild and scenic river report, related documents and a detailed schedule of meetings, go to http://www.blm.gov/rmp/co/kfo-gsfo/river_study.htm.