NWNL’s Most Endangered Rivers 2019

Every April, American Rivers releases a list of the top ten most endangered rivers in the United States. America’s Most Endangered Rivers Report is one of the best-known and longest-lived annual reports in the environmental movement. Grassroots river conservationists use the report each year to help save their local rivers by scoring policy successes that benefit these rivers and the communities through which they flow. This year’s report spotlights how climate change impacts our rivers and water resources. This blog will focus on five rivers on the list that are also located in NWNL case-study watersheds. All information gathered here is sourced from the report. The full list can be viewed online. Images © Alison M Jones.

Upper Mississippi River (NWNL Case-Study Mississippi River Basin)

Upper Mississippi River is third on the list this year. According to American Rivers, “this iconic river is threatened by illegal raises to the levee system that cut the river off from more than 170,000 acres of floodplain, increasing flood risk for communities and degrading vital fish and wildlife habitat. In order to safeguard communities and restore river health, state and federal agencies must enforce laws that prohibit reckless raising of levees and prioritize use of natural and nature-based flood protection solutions.”

Jones_130603_MO_3116.jpgConfluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers in flood

Willamette River (NWNL Case-Study Columbia River Basin)

Fifth on American Rivers’ list this year, the “wild spring chinook salmon and winter steelhead populations in the Willamette are on the brink of extinction and we can do something to save them. Many of the measures necessary to help these salmon and pacific lamprey — passage at dams, improved water quality, more natural river flows — have already been identified in a 2008 plan created by federal agencies. Yet for more than a decade, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency responsible for executing these beneficial measures, has failed to fully implement the plan.”

Jones_171028_OR_7115.jpgFishing on the Willamette River in Oregon

South Fork Salmon River (NWNL Case-Study Columbia River Basin)

The South Fork Salmon River is seventh on the list and a tributary to the Salmon River, a designated Wild & Scenic River. “The South Fork provides habitat for threatened and endangered fish and some of the state’s best expert-level whitewater. A Canadian mining company’s proposal for a massive open pit gold and antimony mine in the river’s headwaters threatens to pollute this Idaho treasure, adversely impacting all the downstream communities and tribal nations that rely on it for jobs, economic livelihood and cultural heritage.”

Jones_140517_ID_8008.jpgSalmon River Canyon, Idaho

Buffalo National River (NWNL Case-Study Mississippi River Basin)

Number eight on the list, “The Buffalo National River is one of the longest undammed rivers west of the Mississippi and a beautiful destination for more than one million visitors each year. But the river’s clean water, recreation opportunities and fish and wildlife are threatened by a nearby concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) generating waste equivalent to that of 30,000 people. The CAFO owners are refusing to comply with the law and continuing to store waste in manure ponds that are leaking into groundwater.”

Jones_180901_MS_3508.jpgCanoeing on the Mississippi River in Mississippi

Big Darby Creek (NWNL Case-Study Mississippi River Basin)

Ninth on the list, “Big Darby Creek in central Ohio has long been recognized and protected as one of the most pristine streams in the Midwest. However, local leaders are poised to exploit a loophole that would allow an explosion of urban sprawl across the lands surrounding the creek. Poorly planned development would result in polluted runoff, harming water quality and the sensitive wildlife that call the creek home.”

Jones_131024_OH_7852.jpgUrban sprawl of infrastructure in Ohio

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