YOSEMITE VALLEY — One of the area’s most spectacular waterways is among the stars of a new series of “forever” stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
The Merced River is one of 12 U.S. rivers featured in the new “National Wild and Scenic River System” stamp series, which was unveiled and went on sale earlier this summer.
The colorful stamps feature photographs of 12 American rivers that have been designated “Wild and Scenic.” In addition to the Merced, other iconic U.S. rivers featured in the series include the Flathead, Deschutes, Owyhee, Snake, Skagit and Missouri Rivers.
“When Americans use these stamps, either to mail letters and packages or to add them to collections, they will be reminded of our cherished wild and scenic rivers,” U.S. Postal Service Executive VP Joe Corbett said at the release event for the stamp series, which was held in Bend, Oregon, in late May.
These designated rivers and others like them throughout the country provide a wide range of economic, ecological and other social values, Corbett noted.
“Wild and Scenic Rivers are the backbones of many communities that rely on the visitors to fill hotels, visit shops and outfitters, and to hire guides,” added Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa. “We need to take responsibility for stewardship of these rivers in collaboration with partners, local communities and other stakeholders.”
The stamps sell for 55 cents each — or a sheet of 12 for $6.60.
A release from the U.S. Postal Service said the 12 rivers were selected for the series because they represent waterways “outstandingly remarkable for values including fish and wildlife, geology, recreation, and cultural and historical significance.”
“These special streams are allowed to flow freely through natural settings without man-made alterations.”
The National Wild and Scenic River System spans more than 13,000 miles through a variety of landscapes as diverse as the rivers themselves.
Last year, the system celebrated its 50th anniversary.
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act into law, stating, “An unspoiled river is a very rare thing in this Nation today.”
Johnson also said that unless steps were taken to protect them, the country’s “healthy, free-flowing rivers would become a thing of the past.”
During the past five decades, the Wild and Scenic River System has grown to include notable waterways in 41 states and Puerto Rico.
The Forest Service manages more miles of these rivers than any other federal agency, including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The 145-mile-long Merced River, a tributary of the San Joaquin River, flows from the high Sierra Nevada into the San Joaquin Valley. The Merced is most well known for its swift and steep run through the southern part of Yosemite National Park, where it is the primary watercourse flowing through Yosemite Valley.