It’s been fifty years since Congress’ great idea: federally designating the nation’s most exceptional and historic rivers and streams for the sake of posterity.
This one was among the first- the surrounding land bought up after farms and sawmills failed during the Depression, with massive public works projects to reforest the landscape and build roads, bridges, lakes, and picnic areas.
It’s dramatic, the difference between the privately-held top and bottom portions of the river and the publicly-owned middle section. There aren’t cows wading and shitting in that middle section. County highway departments aren’t shoveling gravel out at bridge crossings to rock small roads. All-terrain vehicles aren’t tearing up banks and gravel bars. Paranoid locals cry foul about Big Government and how resources are better managed at the local level…but for all the faults of the Feds, the difference between public and private is stark on a ten mile float.