Wild and Scenic River Study

During the summer of 2006, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Kremmling and Glenwood Springs (now called the Colorado River Valley) Field Offices began the eligibility phase of a Wild and Scenic Rivers evaluation as part of their Resource Management Plan (RMP) revision process. This evaluation is being conducted now because the BLM is required by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to assess river and stream segments under its management jurisdiction as part of its RMP process and has not been done previously.  Public scoping for the RMP process will begin in winter 2007.

The wild and scenic rivers study process is composed of two main components:

1). Eligibility phase

2). Suitability phase


The eligibility phase includes identifying eligible rivers and stream segments, and assigning a tentative classification (Wild, Scenic, or Recreational). At this time, the BLM’s Kremmling and Glenwood Springs FOs are conducting only the eligibility phase of the wild and scenic rivers evaluation process. To be eligible for designation, a river must be free flowing and contain at least one Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV) that is scenic, recreational, geological, fish related, wildlife related, historic, cultural, botanical, hydrological, paleontological, or scientific.  At the conclusion of the eligibility phase, the BLM will prepare a Wild and Scenic Eligibility Report which will document its findings.

If, upon completion of the eligibility phase, any river or stream segments are found to be eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, a suitability study will be conducted. River or stream segments must be found eligible and suitable to be considered for designation in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and only Congress or the Secretary of Interior can designate segments. 

During the eligibility phase, the BLM is examining river and stream segments within the Kremmling and Glenwood Springs FO boundaries to identify those segments that either pass through or are bordered by BLM-administered public lands. Once identified, two standard criteria will be applied to determine the eligibility of each segment. To be eligible, a river segment must be free-flowing and possess at least one river-related value considered “outstandingly remarkable,” as defined below:

Free-Flowing – Free flowing means “existing or flowing in a natural condition without impoundment, diversion, straightening, rip-rapping, or other modification of the water.” Please note:

  • A river below a dam or impoundment can still be eligible;

  • A river need not be navigable by watercraft in order to be eligible; and

  • There are no specific requirements concerning the flow of an eligible river segment. Flows are sufficient if they sustain or complement the outstandingly remarkable values for which the segment would be designated. As such, intermittent and ephemeral streams can be eligible.

Outstandingly Remarkable Values – The determination of whether a river area contains “outstandingly remarkable” values is a professional judgment and is documented in the study report. In order to be considered as outstandingly remarkable, a river-related value must be a unique, rare, or exemplary feature that is significant at a comparative regional or national scale. While the spectrum of resources that may be considered is broad, all values should be directly river related. That is, they should have the following characteristics:

  • Be located in the river or on its immediate shorelands (for the purposes of this study, the preliminary boundary is 0.25-mile on either side of the river);
  • Contribute substantially to the functioning of the river ecosystem; or
  • Owe their location or existence to the presence of the river.

Once rivers are considered eligible as a result of applying the free-flowing and outstandingly remarkable criteria, river segments are assigned a tentative classification.  Classification categories are Wild, Scenic, or Recreational and are based on the type and degree of human development and access associated with the river and adjacent lands at the time of the inventory.  The classification does not reflect the types of values present along a river segment.

For further information about the BLM Wild and Scenic River process, see the following BLM guidance on Wild and Scenic Rivers:

-BLM Manual 8351 - Policy and Program Direction for Identification, Evaluation, and Management

-WO-IM-2004-196- Clarification of BLM Policy in the BLM Manual Section 8351, Wild and Scenic Rivers, with Respect to Eligibility Criteria and Protective Management

Project Schedule:

-The BLM held open houses in Granby, Kremmling, Glenwood Springs, and Eagle during July 2006 to present the results of the initial inventory efforts, provide educational materials regarding the wild and scenic river process, and to receive comments from the public and government agencies regarding potentially eligible river and stream segments, and/or the presence of potential ORVs. Comments were due by July 28, 2006.

-The Eligibility Study was completed on March 28th, 2007.

-The BLM held public outreach as part of its draft suitability process in July and early August 2007, and began developing suitability alternatives in the fall of 2007 as part of the Draft Resource Management Plan/Draft EIS.