July 26, 2007--Battle to save Utah rivers pits preservationists against rural counties (Salt Lake Tribune)

Some of Utah's most beautiful rivers and tributaries have a chance to earn the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers designation, which could protect them from dams and impacts from oil and gas drilling while preserving the scenery and outdoor recreation. Whether they will, though, is another question entirely. It has taken many years for the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management to take the steps mandated by the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Forest Service has completed a statewide assessment of more than 85 rivers and the BLM is working to finish a district-by-district evaluation of its waterways. Both agencies hope to finish their work within the next year and a half. At the same time those efforts are moving forward, however, the state's rural counties are fighting hard to avoid the federal protections they say are unnecessary and would only interfere with grazing, livestock operations, water rights and energy development. The resistance could scuttle the entire effort, because county support is considered critical to necessary congressional approval.

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