Ventana Wilderness Alliance leads Wild River Campaign
Help save our wild rivers | by Tom Hopkins
Hidden within the wild backcountry of the northern Santa Lucia
Mountains and along Monterey County’s spectacular Big Sur coast, are a handful
of free flowing rivers and streams that retain the same wilderness character enjoyed
by the native Salinan and Esselen peoples centuries ago. These rivers should be
preserved in their wild free-flowing state because they provide clean water, recreation
opportunities, scenic enjoyment, cultural resources, and are essential for the
survival of countless species of native plants and animals.
The Arroyo Seco river, running wild and free, is one of
many rivers that deserve designation as a Wild and Senic River.
Unfortunately, these free-flowing rivers remain at risk of being degraded with
dams, diversions and other developments to serve our ever-growing population.
Only one local river, the Big Sur River, is fully protected with both federal
wilderness designation and by inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River
System. Even rivers within federal Wilderness Areas, are at risk of development
because they are not part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. Such rivers
can be dammed and developed by Presidential Executive Order. One only needs to
consider the Bush administration’s record of systematically dismantling
35 years of environmental preservation to understand that our local unprotected
rivers are at risk.
To protect these rivers and streams, the Ventana Wilderness Alliance has teamed
up with the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club and Friends of the River to launch
the Ventana Wild Rivers Campaign. The initial effort of the campaign is to increase
local awareness and to ask the public to communicate their support for the protection
of these remaining free-flowing rivers. To facilitate this communication a post
card is included in this issue of The Ventana that readers are urged to sign and
mail. These cards, along with similarly-worded petitions, will be presented to
our local elected representatives as the campaign unfolds. Please sign and mail
your support card today to save our wild rivers.
Additional information is available at: www.ventanawild.org/projects/rivers/
Tom Hopkins is a founding board member of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance and
a Life Member of the Sierra Club.