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American Rivers announces America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2010

Posted: June 1, 2010 1:06 p.m.
Updated: June 7, 2010 1:06 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON, June 2 -- American Rivers today released its most anticipated report of the year, America's Most Endangered Rivers(TM) of 2010. The 25th anniversary edition of the report spotlights ten rivers facing the most urgent threats, and also features key endangered river success stories from the past two decades. 

The number one river on the America's Most Endangered Rivers list is the Upper Delaware, where gas drilling threatens the drinking water for 17 million people across New York and Pennsylvania.

"The threats facing this year's rivers are more pressing than ever, from gas drilling that could pollute the drinking water of millions of people, to the construction of costly and unnecessary new dams, to outdated flood management that threatens public safety," said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers.

"But the report isn't all bad news. Thanks to the publicity America's Most Endangered Rivers(TM) generates, we have enjoyed tremendous victories over the past 25 years, from the Penobscot in Maine to the Big Sunflower in Mississippi to the Klamath in California."

"The report proves that when citizens take action, we can achieve great victories for our rivers and clean water," said Wodder.

The report is a call to action and emphasizes solutions for the rivers and their communities. By shining the spotlight on key decisions that will impact the rivers, and by providing clear actions the public can take on their behalf, the report is a powerful tool for saving these important rivers.

Rivers are selected based upon the following criteria:
-- A major decision (that the public can help influence) in the coming year on the proposed action
-- The significance of the threat to human and natural communities
-- The degree to which the proposed action would exacerbate or alleviate stresses caused by climate change

American Rivers thanks The History Channel and Orvis for their support of America's Most Endangered Rivers(TM) of 2010.

America's Most Endangered Rivers(TM) of 2010 are:

  Upper Delaware River (NY, PA)
Threat: Gas drilling

The Upper Delaware River provides drinking water for 17 million people across Pennsylvania and New York. Unfortunately, this clean water source is threatened by natural gas extraction activities in the Marcellus Shale, where chemicals are injected into the ground creating untreatable toxic wastewater. The Delaware River Basin Commission must not issue permits for gas drilling in this watershed until a thorough study of impacts is completed. Congress must also pass the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2009.

Sacramento - San Joaquin (CA)
Threat: Outdated water and flood management

California's Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta supplies drinking water for 25 million people, irrigates the most productive agricultural land in the country, and provides critical habitat for the Pacific salmon fishery and millions of migratory birds. However, outdated water supply and flood management systems have decimated the ecosystem and closed the commercial salmon fishery all while leaving Californians ever more vulnerable to droughts and floods. Now two separate efforts to reengineer the state water supply and flood control system threaten to increase water diversions and preclude floodplain restoration that is essential for salmon recovery and public safety. Decisions by Governor Schwarzenegger in the last months of his term could advance river restoration through these plans, but only if powerful interests do not prevail in perpetuating the failed policies of the past.

Gauley River (WV)
Threat: Mountaintop removal coal mining

The Gauley River is internationally famous for its whitewater, contributing approximately $16 million in annual revenue to West Virginia from commercial rafting. The river also supports trout and bass, but is scarred by coal mining impacts and subjected to degradation from ongoing mining activity. The process of mountaintop removal mining flattens mountaintops, buries streams under debris, and pollutes water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and cooperating agencies must stop the permitting of mine activity that harms the clean water and natural areas that are essential to the health and heritage of Appalachian communities.

Little River (NC)
Threat: New dam

The Little River, home to an abundance of fish and wildlife, provides drinking water, irrigation, and recreation to surrounding communities. A proposed water supply dam would not only cost taxpayers millions, it would severely harm the river's health. American Rivers proposes better, more reliable, and cost-effective solutions to meet the area's water supply needs, including comprehensive water efficiency measures, and expanding existing water supply reservoirs. Raleigh and Wake County should pursue these smarter and cheaper alternatives, and protect the valuable resources of the Little River.

Cedar River (IA)
Threat: Outdated flood management

The Cedar River provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife and is a popular destination for paddlers and anglers. However, outdated flood management and poor watershed planning are impacting public health and safety by causing pollution and increasing the risk of flood damage. The Iowa legislature must work with the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize lower cost, non-structural flood management solutions on the Cedar River. These natural solutions will help reduce flood damage, improve water quality, and restore fish and wildlife while saving taxpayer dollars.

Upper Colorado River (CO)
Threat: Water diversions

The Upper Colorado River and its tributaries are home to prized trout fisheries, drawing anglers and paddlers from across the country. However, more than 100 years of diversions have sapped the river of its lifeblood. If two new major proposed diversion projects advance without the right provisions, the river could become a shadow of its former self. Conversely, if the projects move forward with appropriate foresight and consideration for the long-term protection of the river's health, it could usher in a new era of stewardship and recovery for the Upper Colorado. The regulatory agencies, conservation interests, and people of Colorado must insist that the water projects contain key protections for river health.

 Chetco River (OR)
Threat: Suction dredge mining

Southern Oregon's Chetco River, designated a National Wild and Scenic River, boasts pristine waters and the prized opportunity to fish for healthy, abundant wild salmon and trout. However, this natural gem is threatened by proposals to mine nearly half its length with suction dredges. As requested by Oregon's Senators Wyden and Merkley, Congressman DeFazio, and Governor Kulongoski, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Salazar should immediately withdraw the Chetco from entry under the 1872 Mining Law. This will allow time to pass legislation to permanently safeguard the river from this mining proposal. Ultimately, Congress must pass meaningful mining law reform to permanently protect the Chetco and other Wild and Scenic Rivers from harmful mining.

Teton (ID)
Threat: New dam

The Teton River is a western treasure, home to abundant wildlife including the rare Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The river supports a tremendous recreational fishery and whitewater boating. However, water users and the state of Idaho want to rebuild the Teton Dam - a dam that catastrophically failed 35 years ago. Instead of rebuilding an unsafe and unnecessary dam, the state and the Bureau of Reclamation should promote more cost-effective, reliable water supply solutions that focus on conservation and smarter water management.

 Monongahela River (WV, PA)
Threat: Gas drilling

The Monongahela River provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, and is home to some of the East Coast's best fishing, whitewater boating, and wildlife. However, the river and its clean water are threatened by toxic pollution created by natural gas extraction activities in the Marcellus Shale. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, and the states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, must act to prohibit pollution associated with Marcellus Shale drilling to protect the region's clean water for future generations.

Coosa River (AL)
Threat: Hydropower dams

The Coosa River is a cultural icon of the south and home to an astounding variety of rare and unique fish, snails, and mussels. The construction of seven large hydropower dams in the mid 1900's turned the river into a series of reservoirs and caused the largest mass extinction in U.S. history. But there is still an opportunity to save some of the Coosa's remaining natural heritage for future generations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must meet its responsibility to insist on strong protections for the river's endangered wildlife in the license that will allow Alabama Power Company to operate these dams for the next 50 years. The Coosa will serve as a test as to whether federal agencies are committed to environmentally sustainable hydropower operations.

25 Years of Success
Over the past 25 years, America's Most Endangered Rivers(TM) has spurred victories for many rivers and the people who depend on them. By raising the profile of urgent threats like dams, sewage pollution and mining, we have helped put rivers like the Klamath, Elwha, Penobscot, Blackfoot, Susquehanna, and Big Sunflower on the path to recovery.

Key successes featured for the 25th anniversary of America's Most Endangered Rivers(TM) include (for details, visit AmericanRivers.org/EndangeredRivers):

-- Northwest: Elwha River (listed 1992, 1995); Hanford Reach of the Columbia River (listed 1998); Alsek and Tatshenshini rivers (listed 1990-1993)

-- California: Klamath River (listed (1987-1990; 2002-2003); San Mateo Creek (listed 2007); Tuolumne River (listed 2005)

-- Northern Rockies: North Fork of the Flathead River (listed 2009); Blackfoot River (listed 1998); Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River (listed 1994-1996)

-- Southwest: Neches River (listed 2007); Santa Fe River (listed 2007); Guadalupe River (listed 2002); McCrystal Creek (listed 2005)

-- Midwest: Minnesota River (listed 2008)

-- Great Lakes: Wolf River (listed 1997-1998)

-- Northeast: Penobscot River (listed 1989-1996); Ipswich River (listed 2003); Hudson River (listed 2001)

-- Mid-Atlantic: Susquehanna River (listed 2005)

-- Southeast: Big Sunflower River (listed 2002-2004); Altamaha River (listed 2002); Tennessee River (listed 2004)

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