The Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association supports the ongoing community based effort to obtain Wild and Scenic designation for the Crystal River. This effort is being led by a citizens' committee and is supported by a wide range of individuals, governmental, and civic groups. Visit the Crystal River Wild and Scenic website
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was authorized by Congress in 1968 to protect selected rivers with outstanding remarkable natural, cultural and/or recreational values to be preserved in a free flowing condition; and to insure that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. Legislation to protect a river under the Wild & Scenic Act can be drafted to meet the individual needs of the designated River.
Steps Toward Wild and Scenic Designation for the Crystal River
Three basic stages of review determine whether a river should be protected as wild and scenic.
These stages can either be conducted by federal land-management agencies or initiated by citizen action. In the Crystal River Valley, they have been initiated and moved forward by a group of local citizens.
1. ELIGIBILITY - First is the determination whether a river is eligible for this protection—that is, it meets the most basic requirements of a) being free-flowing and b) including at least one outstandingly remarkable value (such as outstanding scenery, key wildlife habitat, important or rare plants, etc.).
2. SUITABILITY - Second is the somewhat more complex discussion of whether a river is suitable for protection. This stage analyzes three factors: 1) level of community support for protecting the river; 2) ability of wild and scenic designation to protect the river and its unique natural values; and 3) other values or needs that either conflict with wild and scenic protection or encourage it.
This is the process in which we are currently engaged:
3. LEGISLATION - Third and final stage is legislation in the U.S. Congress, formally designating a stretch of river as a protected component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The proposed designation would start at the headwaters of the Crystal River in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area and extend downstream to the input to the Sweet Jessup Ditch, about 7 miles below Redstone. The map above outlines the river segments that are to be designated as Wild (Purple), Scenic (Yellow) and Recreational (Green). All totaled, 39 miles of the Crystal River would be included in the designation, with about 60% in Gunnison County and 40% in Pitkin County. Click on the map for greater detail.
The primary objectives of Wild & Scenic designation for the Crystal are two-fold:
The Act will preserve all current recreational and agricultural uses, and will not interfere with any existing water rights or uses. The legislation will be subordinate to existing Pitkin and Gunnison County land use regulations.
Video by Pete McBride, 2012