U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- American Rivers, North America's leading river conservation organization, singled out the U.S. Congress as the "biggest threat to America's rivers" in its 11th annual report on the most endangered U.S. rivers in 1996.
The report, which highlights rivers which face the continent's worst environmental abuse, cited significant threats from mines, dams, pollution, flood control projects, and the 1996 summer Olympics.
"The biggest threat to rivers this year comes from Congress' aggressive attack on our natural resources," said Rebecca Wodder, President of American Rivers. "Whether the issue is the Clean Water Act or the Endangered Species Act, salvage logging or pork barrel water projects, Congressional actions have had a dramatic, direct, and negative impact on rivers," she said.
The present Congress, added Wodder, is responsible for enacting an impressive list of "anti-environment legislation."
Virtually every major piece of existing natural resource legislation has been attacked, said Wodder, including the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, wetlands protection measures, and laws to protect old-growth forests from excessive logging.
In its Annual Earth Day Report, American Rivers named 10 of the most endangered rivers, and 20 other highly threatened rivers which flow through 38 states in the U.S., as well as northern Mexico.
The most endangered river, according to the report, is Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River, threatened by contamination from the proposed "New World" gold mine, to be developed only two and one-half miles from Yellowstone Park.
Other rivers endangered by mining, dam construction, and pollution, among other things, according to American Rivers include: American River (California); Upper Chattahoochee and Etowah Rivers (Georgia); Missouri River (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska; and North and South Dakota), Upper Hudson River (New York); Columbia/Snake River System (Washington, Oregon, Idaho); Elk River (Oregon); Pinto Creek (Arizona); Penobscot River (Maine); and Animas River (Colorado, New Mexico).
But despite the many serious threats to rivers, said Wodder, she is
optimistic. "Rivers have amazing regenerative powers," she said. "Each of these threatened -- and endangered -- rivers can be saved."
But we must take steps now, she said, "to make protection of rivers a national priority. It's in the self-interest of us all to have clean water, healthy ecosystems, and high quality outdoor recreational opportunities."
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