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.
there are still rivers and streams which are free-flowing and wild,
and they must be protected.
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.
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 riversincluding
the Colorado, Mississippi, Columbia, and Tennesseeto 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.
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.
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