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The Skagit River gets its own stamp in 2019 — here’s why the Nooksack was left out

The U.S. Postal Service announced that the Skagit River will be one of a dozen rivers featured in the middle of the third row on a panel of Forever Stamps in the 2019 collection commemorating the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System across the country.
The U.S. Postal Service announced that the Skagit River will be one of a dozen rivers featured in the middle of the third row on a panel of Forever Stamps in the 2019 collection commemorating the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System across the country. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

In this electronic age of firing off text messages and emails in a heartbeat, some say you send a little piece of yourself when you actually sit down and take the time to write somebody a letter. Now you can also share a little bit of Northwest Washington and the wild beauty we enjoy on a daily basis when you drop that letter in the mail.

And if you just like to collect stamps — all the better.

The U.S. Postal Service in a press release announced that the Skagit River will be one of a dozen rivers featured in a panel of Forever Stamps in the 2019 collection commemorating the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System across the country.

The Skagit River stamp will feature a photo taken by Tim Palmer and, as you may guess, includes a majestic snow-capped Mount Baker standing tall in the background.

Palmer has four photos featured in the panel of Wild and Scenic Rivers, according to the release, with stamps of the Snake River (in Idaho and Wyoming), Flathead River (Montana) and Ontonagon River (Michigan) also featuring his photographs. The other eight featured rivers were the Merced River (California), Owyhee River (Oregon), Koyukuk River (Alaska), Niobrara River (South Dakota and Nebraska), Missouri River (Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska), Deschutes River (Oregon), Tlikakila River (Alaska) and Clarion River (Pennsylvania).

Other stamps featured in the 2019 Forever series, according to the release, include Gregory Hines, cactus flowers, Alabama, Marvin Gaye, the USS Missouri, post office murals, Walt Whitman, frogs, state and county fares and the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.

“The miniature works of art illustrated in the 2019 stamp program offer something for everyone’s interest about American history and culture,” U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Executive Director Mary-Anne Penner said in the release. “From legendary poet Walt Whitman to the entertainment genius of Gregory Hines to the majestic beauty of our Wild and Scenic Rivers, this program is diverse and wide-ranging and tells America’s story on stamps.”

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System is celebrating its 50th anniversary, after was created by Congress in 1968 in an effort to help preserve rivers with outstanding natural cultural and recreational values in “free-flowing condition,” according to the system’s website. The act is meant to encourage river management by crossing political boundaries and promoting public participation, according to the site.

The Skagit was the first river in Washington state to be designated as a Wild and Scenic, as 158.5 miles were recognized on Nov. 10, 1978. There are now five other river systems in the state recognized by the act — Illabot Creek, Klickitat River, Pratt River, Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River and White Salmon River — as 197 miles of the state’s 70,439 miles are designated as wild and scenic, according to the website.

So, what about Whatcom County’s own Nooksack River? Why wasn’t it included on a stamp?

It hasn’t been designated a Wild and Scenic River, yet, but there is a movement led by the Nooksack Wild and Scenic Campaign to make it so. According to the campaign’s website, the U.S. Forest Service determined that portions of the North, Middle and South forks and their tributaries were eligible for inclusion in 1990, “due to their special wild character and natural recreation resources.”

According to an online proposal story map designed by Rachel Benbrook of Salish Sea Ecological Services, 113 miles of the upper portions of the river would be designated Wild and Scenic, including 21.41 miles of the North Fork plus 40.67 miles of its tributaries, 14.44 miles of the Middle Fork plus 1.42 miles of its tributaries and 16.13 miles of the South Fork plus 8.1 miles of its tributaries.

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