Group Wants Utah's Rivers Federally Protected

Group Wants Utah's Rivers Federally Protected

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Alex Cabrero ReportingUtah has a lot of beautiful rivers, but not a one of them is designated as a federal wild and scenic river, which would provide protection from future development. There is one group, trying to change that.

The Green River, near Flaming Gorge in Daggett County, is one of 85 Utah rivers the Forest Service is considering for the wild and scenic designation, which for a lot of people means a lot.

Denny Breer has been down the Green River so many times it seems even the fish know him by name. He says, "It's my life. I fell in love with it the first time I came."

He owns Trout Creek Flies, a guide business in Dutch John. So when he heard the river might soon get a federal designation protecting it forever, he wanted to be a part of it.

"It's given me a lot, and I'm grateful for everything it's given me, and I owe a lot back," Breer said.

Lots of people use the river to fish and float. Being designated as a Wild and Scenic River means they'll never have to worry about it being dammed again, having it's banks developed, or any other project that would impact its current flow.

Mark Danenhauer, with the Utah Rivers Council, says, "We are one of only 12 states in the country that does not have a single river that's protected as a wild and scenic river."

The Utah Scenic Rivers Council is a group pushing to have Utah's rivers protected. It's also educating others about what this designation would really mean.

"People are afraid once the river is designated, it means people are going to be locked out and not be allowed to use the river, and that's completely false," Danenhauer said.

Jeff Schramm, with the U.S. Forest Service, says, "It would give us a few more guidelines."

It's up to the Forest Service to see which rivers will be considered. For the folks on the Green River, though, it's a no-brainer.

"I certainly want to see it for my grandchildren, and for their children and generations to come," Breer said.

Again, the Forest Service is looking at 85 of Utah's rivers. They hope to have their list ready to give to D.C. lawmakers by Spring.

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