Celebrating 36 years of Wild and Scenic Status for the Tuolumne

On this day 36 years ago, Congress designated 83 miles of what was then ‘the most endangered river’ in America as part of the National Wild & Scenic River System. Thanks to the determination of a great group of individuals, the Tuolumne River Trust had our first major victory. In the wake of our first-ever virtual Fall Gala on October 1, 2020, Marty McDonnell, long-time outfitter, TRT board member, and recreationist shared his reflections on how this iconic river and the people inspired by it have shaped his story.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you all as well as the many outstanding teams that have previously cared for the waters of the Tuolumne. It is noteworthy that today is not only the night of the full moon, but it is also the eve of Lyndon Johnson signing the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act Into Law on October 2, 1968. Just a month before, Bryce Whitmore made the first raft run of the T! Bryce took me on my first river trip in 1962 on the Sacramento River. It was on that trip he suggested that when I got a bit bigger I could guide for him. He is like a second father to me… taught me how to most efficiently and effectively deflect the river’s currents to successively move my craft with his paying guests. I am exceptionally lucky to passionately love my work and sport since I was 15.

I have been training my son Tom to take the lead in managing my river rafting operations since he was five. Now at 6’7” and many T trips under his belt he does well at the helm leading our river rafting tours. I still have my hands on the sticks, rowed the Grand Canyon of the Colorado last fall on Tom’s permit with four 70-year-olds on my raft.” Marty McDonnell of Sierra Mac River Trip was the first outfitter on Yosemite’s Tuolumne & Merced Rivers. He is a pioneer on the Cherry Creek/Upper Tuolumne and a long-time board member of TRT.


Marty’s Son Tom, age 5 on the Tuolumne


Don Moyer and Barbara Boxer rafting the Tuolumne as a part of the Wild and Scenic campaign

Celebrate with us today and relive the wonderful memories of the campaign that set the stage for an era of river preservation across America by watching some of these historic videos about the Wild and Scenic Rivers act: