Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by Sharing Your River Packrafting Story!
via this link. . **Note: your story should be at minimum few paragraphs long and should be an actual story that you might tell around the fire about a whitewater packrafting adventure.**
Some of the country’s most well-respected conservation organizations and outdoor businesses have collaborated to create the 5,000 Miles of Wild ® Campaign. The Campaign is a collective effort to protect 5,000 new miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers and one million acres of riverside lands by 2020. The goal of this campaign is to secure 1,500 miles of newly protected rivers through federal legislation initiated by grassroots campaigns across 12 states; the other 3,500 miles are coming through federal administrative protections. But the 5,000 Miles of Wild Campaign won’t stop there. The campaign is also harnessing the power of the people to collect and share 5,000 personal stories from around the country, get 500 kids out on rivers (free of charge), and secure at least 500,000 signatures to demonstrate broad support for river protection.
What, Why, When – 5000 Miles of Wild? Check out our Q&A with American Rivers Communication Director for the Intermountain West Sinjin Eberle. Eberle will be speaking at the Mancos Valley River Film Festival Saturday, June 30th.
Alpacka Raft: Why 5000 Miles of Wild?
Sinjin Eberle: Because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. We have roughly three million miles of rivers in our country and only a tiny fraction are protected. We’ve made good progress since the act was signed in 1968 but still have a lot of work to do. We want to rally people around a bold, positive vision. It’s important to be proactive, especially now. Yes, we are playing defense on public lands; we need to keep setting the bar high when it comes to our best public lands and waters.
AR: Are you gaining lots of traction with this campaign and others?
SE: We have made great progress with local campaigns, from Wild Olympics in Washington state to Montana and beyond. Protections will come in one of two ways:
- Legislative (bills passed in Congress);
- Administrative (protections secured at the agency level in new National Forest plans). In addition to protecting 5,000 miles of new wild and scenic rivers, we’ll safeguard one million acres of riverside lands because each wild and scenic designation comes with a quarter-mile strip of land protection along the river.
SE: People can help in two ways:
- Sign the petition to Congress
- Share a personal river story to demonstrate broad and diverse support for rivers. (Throughout May people can share their packrafting whitewater stories through a joint Alpacka Raft and 5000 Miles of Wild story link. Everyone who enters get entered into a drawing for the chance to win a Werner Sherpa Paddle).
AR: What does this campaign mean to you personally?
SE: It encompasses both everything we love about rivers (wildness, beauty, excitement, and a connection to nature) and adds protection to the rivers we depend upon so directly for clean water, for growing our food, for the fish and wildlife we all enjoy and need across the country. And it engages us – by telling each of our river stories, we connect to the places, the flowing waters, and to each other. And I am pretty sure that nothing is more important than that in this time of elevated angst between us across our country.
Personally, the rivers of the Southwest are the most important. Names like the San Juan, Colorado, Escalante, Paria, Gila all reflect both a deep historical relevance for the region of the world I love the most, as well as many of the places I explored as a kid and younger man. And knowing that the iconic landscapes that I love so deeply – Grand Canyon, Bears Ears, The Maze District, and all of Southwestern Colorado – depend on these rivers being healthy and vibrant, reinforces my commitment to protecting these places.
AR: How did American Rivers get involved?
SE: AR was founded more than 40 years ago to protect wild and scenic rivers. At the time, new dams were still destroying the nation’s wild rivers, and no new rivers were being designated as wild and scenic since the act passed in 1968. So our founders committed themselves to river protection. It’s still a core part of our mission. We see this 50th anniversary as a way to reignite the spark – that’s why we started the 5,000 Miles of Wild campaign with our corporate and non-profit partners.
Want to learn more about the campaign or share a different story unrelated to packrafting or whitewater? Visit 5000Miles.org.