Center for Biological Diversity

Wild and Scenic Rivers Campaign

 
 


Colorado River: by Brent Plater

NEWS FLASH!

FEDERAL JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR ARIZONA
WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS LAWSUIT

SUIT FILED TO PROTECT NORTH FORK EEL WILD AND SCENIC RIVER

SUIT FILED TO PROTECT UPPER PENINSULA WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS


California Wild and Scenic Rivers Campaign

Southwestern Wild and Scenic Rivers: An Unfulfilled Legacy

Great Lakes Wild and Scenic Rivers Campaign


July 7, 2003

 

Water is life, for both humans and wildlife. Yet the vast majority of our nation's rivers and streams have been ravaged by dam construction, pollution, habitat destruction, and water diversions. Our mightiest rivers have been transformed into giant plumbing systems, literally choked by dams and reservoirs.

However, there are still rivers and streams which are free-flowing and wild, and they must be protected.

The Center for Biological Diversity has launched a national campaign to identify and protect Wild and Scenic Rivers, ensuring that our remaining free-flowing rivers and streams are permanently safeguarded from dam construction and other destructive activities.

The United States is a nation of dams. Over 60,000 major dams have been constructed on U.S. waterways in the last century, strangling nearly every river and stream in the country and reducing many of our greatest rivers—including the Colorado, Mississippi, Columbia, and Tennessee—to little more than a series of reservoirs. Those few rivers and streams which still flow free are often severely degraded by livestock grazing, energy development, logging, and mining. Although efforts to decommission dams now outnumber those to build them, our remnant free-flowing rivers and streams will not be truly safe from dam proposals and other threats unless they are provided with permanent protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Center for Biological Diversity is leading the fight for this protection.

Since 1998, we have compelled New Mexico National Forests to identify over 500 miles of potential Wild and Scenic Rivers, sued the Forest Service for failing to develop management plans for Wild and Scenic Rivers on the Los Padres National Forest within majestic Big Sur, and are now taking action to protect over 750 miles of potential Wild and Scenic rivers in Arizona. We will soon join local activists in calling for protection of Wild and Scenic rivers on Michigan's upper peninsula.

Preserving our remaining free-flowing rivers is essential to the preservation of wildlife, especially native fish and other endangered species in the arid West. Unfortunately, the situation is desperate. For example, three-quarters of Arizona's 34 species of native fish are now imperiled. And across the West, every species of trout has suffered considerable population declines and most occupy less than 10% of their historical range.

Dams have played a large role in declines for nearly all of these species. Providing our free-flowing rivers and streams permanent protection from further dams and habitat destruction will be essential in preventing these species' extinction and beginning the long road to recovery.

Passed in 1968, the Wild and Scenic Act is the nation's most sweeping river protection law, absolutely prohibiting dam construction and requiring protection of river habitat from other threats such as rampant livestock grazing, logging, and construction of power lines. Since its passage, nearly 11,000 miles of river on 158 river segments have been designated as Wild and Scenic. These protections have been concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, California, and Alaska, leaving the Southwest, Midwest, Rocky Mountains and other regions with very few Wild and Scenic rivers.


 
Go Back