The Gila River Named Most Endangered

The Gila River of New Mexico

The environmental group American Rivers published their annual list of the “most endangered” rivers in the U.S. and this year the Gila River took the top spot because of a planned diversion project that would block the last free-flowing river in New Mexico.  According to USA Today, the rest of the top five most endangered were: the Hudson River, New York; the Upper Mississippi River, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri; the Green-Duwamish River, Washington; and the Willamette River, Oregon.

  • The group’s President and CEO, Bob irvin, said in a statement, “America’s Most Endangered Rivers is a call to action. We must speak up and take action, because climate change will profoundly impact every river and community in our country.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the group named the Cuyahoga River in Ohio as the “River of the Year” due to the progress Cleveland has made in cleaning up the Cuyahoga.  It was a fire on the Cuyahoga 50 years ago that helped ignite the environmental movement in this country.  American Rivers has been publishing the list since 1984.

The criteria are not what you would think — and these rivers aren’t the nation’s “worst” or most polluted. According to American Rivers, “three factors put rivers on the list: the significance of the river to human and natural communities; the magnitude of the threat to the river and its nearby communities, especially in light of a changing climate; and a major decision that the public can help influence in the coming year.”

Why This Matters:  While some of the factors in determining the most endangered river — like climate change — are hard to impact, the most endangered river is usually one that can be “saved” from impending doom. In this case, alternatives to damming the Gila must be developed.  The positive reinforcement for Cleveland’s cleanup of the Cuyahoga River is just as important or more from an advocacy perspective.  But our clean water problems are hardly solved — nutrient pollution from farms leads to toxic algae blooms, chemicals leaching into groundwater are making it hazardous, and the lack of water caused by climate change leads to dust storms and fires are all grave threats that are not being addressed.  Just this week, the EPA issued new more lax guidance under the Clean Water Act, saying that pollution that travels through groundwater to regulated waterways isn’t subject to the landmark pollution law. Our rivers will remain endangered until our leaders take action to address these threats.

What You Can Do:  To learn how you can help to save the Gila River, click here.

The Cuyahoga River on fire in 1969.

Up Next

New Study Finds That Many Dams Are Located In Protected Areas, Many More Planned

New Study Finds That Many Dams Are Located In Protected Areas, Many More Planned

A recent study published in Conservation Letters found that over 500 dams in planning stages or already constructed are located within protected areas. As Yale E360 reported this week, this study is significant in that it is the first to measure how many dams are being built in protected areas, including in national parks, nature reserves, indigenous areas, and more. 

Why This Matters: As the article in Conservation Letters lays out, these protected areas are an “essential tool” in the conservation of freshwater biodiversity.

Continue Reading 552 words
Climate-Fueled Rains Ravage At Least a Quarter of Bangladesh

Climate-Fueled Rains Ravage At Least a Quarter of Bangladesh

by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer  Torrential rains have flooded “at least a quarter” of Bangladesh, Somini Sengupta and Julfikar Ali Manik reported in the New York Times last week. According to data from the National Disaster Response Coordination Center, 4.7 million people have been affected by this deluge and over 50,000 people have been […]

Continue Reading 591 words
Summer Increasingly Brings Toxic Algae to Freshwater Lakes in US – Watch Your Pets

Summer Increasingly Brings Toxic Algae to Freshwater Lakes in US – Watch Your Pets

As the “dog days” of summer are here, so is the threat of toxic algae in lakes and ponds across the U.S., according to reports from news outlets nationwide.  The Boston Globe’s David Abel reported on how the 996 small lakes on Cape Cod that had provided a respite from saltwater are now warming so rapidly that they are being “transformed by climate change” that saps their oxygen, makes them dangerous for swimming by humans and pets, and harms wildlife.

Why This Matters:  Often these blooms occur because of runoff pollution, but in some locations on Cape Cod with little of that, the culprit seems to be climate change.

Continue Reading 522 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.