Salmon Challis National Forest Begins Plan Revision

Forest Plan Revision Webinar on Thursday, Feb. 23, 3-5 pm

America’s national forests are home to vast natural landscapes and intact ecological processes.  The Salmon Challis National Forest in central Idaho is one of the largest Forests in the lower 48 states.   Encompassing approximately 4.3 million acres, the Forest includes the largest designated wilderness area in the contiguous U.S., the 1.3-million-acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, 116,898 acres of the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness and an additional 2 million acres that are free of roads.

EF Pahsimeroi
East Fork Pahsimeroi, Ralph Maughan

Through these untouched landscapes course hundreds of rivers and streams that support intact populations of native fish and wildlife found few other places. The large size of the Salmon Challis Forest allows the connectivity necessary for genetic diversity and species resilience. The rivers also provide unique recreation, scenic, cultural and geologic values.

Ship Island Creek
Ship Island Creek, Scott Smay

Wild and Scenic Rivers

National Forests are managed according to Forest Management Plans that address a multitude of resource issues. River protection is one such issue, and, during the planning process, each Forest must evaluate the characteristics of all its rivers to determine which are eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) was signed into law in 1968 to protect the “outstandingly remarkable” scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, and cultural values of our nation’s last best free-flowing rivers.

Mike Page tackles Loon Creek, Alex Henes, www.merelyafleshwound.com

Forest Plan Revision to Evaluate Rivers

The Salmon Challis National Forest has begun the long-overdue revision of their Forest Management Plan, including taking a fresh look at the hundreds of rivers that flow through the forest. The Middle Fork Salmon River and part of the Main Salmon River are already Wild and Scenic Rivers, but the tributaries and headwaters that are vital to providing ecological connectivity that supports species resilience are not.

National river protection powerhouse American Rivers contracted Community LLC to investigate the characteristics of the rivers and develop a list of rivers eligible for Wild and Scenic designation; rivers with outstandingly remarkable values. I dug into information on the Salmon River, Middle Fork Salmon River, Panther Creek, North Fork Salmon River, Pahsimeroi River, Lemhi River, Big Lost River, Little Lost River and their tributaries. The Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Recommendations for the Salmon Challis National Forest includes 124 rivers, a total of 1,303 miles, that have at least one (and most have multiple) outstandingly remarkable value and are, therefore, eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation.

American Rivers Wild & Scenic River Eligibility Recommendations Salmon Challis National Forest, Idaho

Get Involved!

There are many opportunities for involvement if you’re interested in the rivers of the Salmon Challis National Forest or in other resource planning, including new wilderness designation. Visit Forest Public Involvement

On Thursday, February 23, the Forest will hold an online Forest Plan Revision Kickoff webinar from 3 – 5 p.m., https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/scnf-fpr/, audio:  1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633, access code: 0120197#

Upper Herd Creek
Upper Herd Creek, photo U.S. Forest Service

Author: Liz Paul

Liz is an inspirational organizer with a passion for helping people work together to improve the places we call home.