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For Immediate Release, April 11, 2008

Contact: Michelle Harrington, Rivers Conservation Manager, 602-628-9909

Governor Janet Napolitano Names April "Arizona Rivers Month"

PHOENIX, Ariz.– Governor Janet Napolitano proclaimed April as Arizona Rivers Month Tuesday to draw attention to the importance of maintaining the few remaining flowing rivers in Arizona, such as the San Pedro River, Verde River, and Fossil Creek.

Arizona ’s rivers have suffered intensely over the past many decades as dams, diversions, and groundwater pumping have taken their toll. Some streams that once flowed year-round are now dry wash beds that only see water when it rains.

“The governor’s proclamation inspires us to protect Arizona rivers as the ribbons of life that allow the arid southwest to survive and thrive,” said Michelle Harrington, rivers conservation manager for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We must recognize the value of our state’s rivers and update our water management laws accordingly to reflect the very real connection between groundwater and surface water.”

Arizona rivers face increasing pressure as the population and water needs in the region grow. The proclamation formally recognizes Arizona’s rivers and their critical importance as a water resource and as riparian habitat for numerous species of wildlife.

Multiple events are planned during the month of April that celebrate rivers in Arizona. The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups have organized many of these activities and events to focus particularly on the Verde River, currently threatened by groundwater pipeline from the Big Chino aquifer, which provides most of the upper river’s base flows, to the Prescott Active Management Area. The events include the Arizona Riparian Council’s Spring Meeting “ The Verde River Ecosystem: Are Growth and Conservation Mutually Exclusive?”, a Sierra Club-sponsored Verde River clean up, a 100-mile “Baseflow” endurance run that connects the Granite Creek watershed to the Verde headwaters, and the annual Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival in Cottonwood.

The governor recently directed the Arizona Department of Water Resources to work with the Prescott area communities to develop a monitoring and mitigation plan to protect the Verde from the impacts of the proposed pipeline projects. She also designated April as Water Awareness Month through executive order.

The proclamation is available here (text only version here). The executive order is available here.

A calendar of the Center for Biological Diversity’s April River Days events is available here.

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