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Resource Management Plan: Wild & scenic rivers

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are part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, which was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. 

Both the Grand Junction and Uncompahgre Field Offices, in their resource management plans, determined that a number of streams within the Dominguez-Escalante NCA (D-E NCA) are “eligible” for wild and scenic river (WSR) consideration. During the resource management planning process for the D-E NCA, the BLM makes decisions regarding the "suitability" of river segments within the D-E NCA. During the planning process for the D-E NCA resource management plan, one segment was found suitable for WSR designation.

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Public Input During the Wild and Scenic River Study Process


    Gunnison Basin Independent Stakeholder Group:

Independent stakeholders are considering whether streams within the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area are suitable for inclusion within the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers System.  These discussions are part of a larger process that includes segments in the Gunnison river basin that fall outside of the D-E NCA in the Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO).  

More information can be found on the Gunnison River Basin stakeholder process on the Uncompahgre Field Office's wild and scenic river website.

The last meeting for the Gunnison Basin independent stakeholders group was April 13, 2011 at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center, Delta, CO. 

At this last meeting, the group discussed their recommendations regarding Wild & Scenic suitability for each segment in the NCA and other management options to protect each segment's ORVs.

 Click here to see the group's final letter of recommendation. 


Stakeholder Group meeting notes

Stakeholder Group ORV worksheets

April 13

Escalante and Cottonwood Creeks

April 5

Gunnison River Segments 1 and 3

March 23

Rose Creek, Big and Little Dominguez Creeks 

March 9


February 24


Important links
Uncompahgre Field Office wild and scenic rivers information

Grand Junction Field Office wild and scenic rivers information

Documents and presentations

Wild and scenic river introductory presentation

D-E NCA wild and scenic river eligibility summary

D-E NCA in-stream flow rights and legislation

Map of eligible segments in the D-E NCA

Tools for management of Outstandingly Remarkable Values

Background on the wild and scenic river study process


    Environmental Coalition:


In addition, a separate group consisting of a coalition of environmental organizations released its own recommendations to the BLM. 

Click here to see this group's final letter of recommendation

Supplementary information provided by the Environmental Coalition:


    Summary of public input:


Click here to see a summary of the findings of both stakeholder groups 


    Advisory Council recommendations:


On June 15, 2011, the DENCA Advisory Council addressed the issue of wild and scenic rivers.  The Council focused on river/creek segments where the two stakeholder groups provided different recommendations regarding suitability.  These segments were Gunnison River segment 3, Cottonwood Creek, Rose Creek and Escalante Creek segment 1.  The Council voted to recommend that BLM find none of the four segments suitable. 

Click here to see the meeting minutes


Steps in the Wild and Scenic River Study Process


The first step in the WSR study process is to determine which river segments meet eligibility criteria.  To be eligible, a river segment must be free-flowing and possess one or more outstandingly remarkable values (ORV).  ORVs may be scenic, recreational, geological, fish or wildlife related, historic, cultural, botanical, hydrological, or paleontological. ORVs must be of a quality or scarcity that makes them unique, rare, or exemplary within the region.  In addition, rivers must have sufficient water quality to support those values. Both the Uncompahgre and Grand Junction Field Offices completed an eligibility analysis for the rivers and streams in the D-E NCA.  The results of these studies are finalized in the D-E NCA summary report.


The BLM is currently evaluating the suitability of eligible segments.  Suitability analysis is designed to be a highly inclusive process, with numerous opportunities for stakeholders and the public to get involved.  This phase will result in a determination of which eligible segments the BLM will recommend to Congress for inclusion in the National WSR System.  This is done as part of the RMP process for the D-E NCA.

During the suitability phase, the BLM is asking for stakeholder help to analyze various management prescriptions and positive and negative impacts of various designations for each segment.   Together we are working to identify how stream-related values can best be protected and enhanced and to consider potential impacts to other resources such as water supply.  As part of the process, the BLM is considering alternatives to WSR designation for managing water-related values.

The Wild and Scenic River study process

The suitability phase addresses several management considerations:
  • Should the river’s free-flowing character, water quality, and ORVs be protected, or are one or more other uses important enough to warrant doing otherwise?
  • Is protection of identified ORVs within management control?  
  • Will historical or existing rights be adversely affected?
  • Will the river’s free-flowing character, water quality, and ORVs be protected through designation? Is it the best method for protecting the river corridor? The benefits and impacts of WSR designation must be evaluated, and alternative protection methods must be considered.
  • Is there a demonstrated commitment to protect the river by any non-federal entities who may be partially responsible for implementing protective management?


The BLM does not designate segments as Wild or Scenic Rivers. The BLM determined in the Proposed RMP that one segment within the D-E NCA is suitable for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System. The Final RMP/FEIS and Record of Decision (scheduled for release in 2016) will not designate this suitable segment. Designation of Wild and Scenic Rivers is a decision that is almost always made by Congress. On very rare occasions, this decision can be made by the Secretary of the Interior with the approval of the appropriate state's governor.

For further information, contact the Bureau of Land Management’s Grand Junction Field Office: 

Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area
Bureau of Land Management
2815 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 81506
Phone: (970) 244-3000
Fax: (970) 244-3083