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Green River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers
Water pipeline threatens rural economies, recreation
Matt Rice, American Rivers, (303) 454-3395
Steve Markle, O.A.R.S., (209) 753-4797
Nathan Fey, American Whitewater, (303) 859-8601
Zach Frankel, Utah Rivers Council, (801) 699-1856
Washington, D.C. – American Rivers named the Green River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® today, shining a national spotlight on a boondoggle water pipeline proposal that would harm rural economies, world-class recreation, and critical fish and wildlife habitat.
“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are facing a critical tipping point,” said Matt Rice, Colorado Conservation Director for American Rivers. “We all need healthy rivers for our drinking water, health, economy, and quality of life. We hope citizens will join us to ensure a healthy Green River for generations to come.”
Front Range water providers have proposed to build a 500-mile long “Flaming Gorge Pipeline” that will send water from the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range. Estimates for completing the Flaming Gorge pipeline range between $7 billion and $9 billion (not including indirect or environmental costs)— an amount that could be the highest of any water project in Colorado’s history. The project could potentially divert more than 250,000 acre feet of water from the Green River annually— water that currently supports a robust recreation and tourism economy, rural agriculture, native species, and urban water use downstream.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has stated that the pipeline project is not a responsible use of taxpayer dollars. American Rivers and its partners called on Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to denounce the pipeline project and support smart water supply measures such as conservation, reuse, and agricultural and urban cooperative agreements.
“Water in the West is critical to more things than just fueling speculative urban growth,” says Nathan Fey, Director of American Whitewater’s Colorado River Stewardship Program. “While the Green River is being viewed as a solution to Colorado’s future water shortage, the river today supports a diverse economy, sustains rare wildlife and endanged fish populations, and offers unique opportunities for people to experience how water interacts with the landscape. We need to protect the Green River, or we will lose these iconic values that define our communities in the basin!”
Steve Markle, a spokesperson for veteran outfitter, O.A.R.S., added: “The Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir offers a family-friendly stretch of whitewater and world-class fishing through a series of beautiful desert canyons. The pleasant nature of the Green and its proximity to Salt Lake City make it an easily accessible river for first-timers of all ages and abilities and itswaters need to be protected for future generations.”
“The Green River is one of the last remaining wild rivers from the old American West,” said Zach Frankel, Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council. “The Green River’s pristine flows and roadless desert canyons are under siege by proposed diversions and extractive industries that threaten to banish its regional life-supporting nature to the history books,” said Frankel.
The Green River is the largest tributary of the Colorado River, and carves some of the most iconic river canyons in the U.S. Thousands of anglers fish its water and thousands of rafters marvel at its majestic canyons each year, generating a robust rural economy across three states. The Green was listed as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® in 2000 because of the threat posed by dams.
Now in its 27th year, the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers, and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.