RBC I On July 9, after seven years of intensive collaborative, public involvement and more than 30 years since local citizens first championed the idea, the White River National Forest released a decision that the first 11 miles of Deep Creek, located on the southeastern corner of the Flat Tops plateau, is suitable to receive special recognition under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
While a designation for Deep Creek under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was never previously proposed above the local level, in past efforts, U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis and U.S. Rep. Diane Degette have each sponsored bills to designate this area as wilderness under the Wilderness Act.
A suitability determination is the final agency step in the process to identify waterways across the country that are free flowing, with outstandingly remarkable values and to protect them for the benefit of present and future generations. If designated by Congress, Deep Creek could become only the second stream designated in the State of Colorado since the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was passed in 1968.
The Forest Service also studied suitability on two segments of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. A decision was made to defer a suitability determination in favor of adopting a plan put forward by a diverse stakeholder group made up of Front Range and Western Slope water providers, recreation groups and water users. The stakeholder plan for the Colorado River will protect the River’s scenic and recreational values but also provide more flexibility in managing the future of this complex river.
In this effort, the Forest Service joined with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Colorado River Valley Field Office as they were analyzing suitability for the sections of Deep Creek and the Colorado River on BLM lands as a part of their Resource Management Plan Revision.
This Forest Service determination will not change the current management for either Deep Creek or the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. The third and final step in the process for Deep Creek under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act would be an official designation.
Only Congress can make that determination.