Rivers come in all shapes and sizes, and vary from pristine to heavily polluted, but it’s generally safe to assume that water is a common denominator among them. For the Santa Fe, 2007’s Most Endangered River, water is the missing ingredient, leaving this once-thriving river a dry, weed-choked ditch most of the year. The Santa Fe River can thrive again. The city of Santa Fe has within its grasp the opportunity to bring its namesake river back to life, restoring a community asset of tremendous value right in the heart of the city.
“Endangered rivers this year face a dizzying array of threats – from sewage pollution, proposals for unnecessary dams, power lines to highways – but all have one thing in common. These are rivers at a crossroads,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “This is a make or break year for all ten rivers on the list.”
#1 Santa Fe River (New Mexico): Spring runoff in the Santa Fe River this year is giving residents a taste of what it used to be like to have a living river in the heart of their city, and what it could be like again. Much of the year, the Santa Fe suffers from the biggest threat any river could face – a complete lack of water. While Santa Fe Mayor David Coss has promoted a visionary, plan to restore water to the river, the city still has not taken important steps to make that vision a reality. Until that happens, the Santa Fe River spends most of the year as a dry, weed-choked ditch, and is America’s most endangered river in 2007.
A full copy of the report is available at www.americanrivers.org/MERPressroom
#2 San Mateo Creek (California): Natural treasures should be enjoyed, not buried under millions of tons of concrete. While that might seem like common sense, it apparently isn’t to California’s Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), which are bulldozing ahead with plans to build the new Foothill Transportation Corridor South (FTC-South) right over the San Mateo Creek. The road will wreck a long section of the creek, cut off access to more than half of California’s fifth most popular state park, and could doom the world-famous surf at Trestles beach. All this for a road that experts agree is unlikely to do anything to alleviate traffic problems in Southern Orange County.
#3 Iowa River (Iowa): Iowans are proud of their state’s high rankings for education and livability compared to other states, but on a crucial aspect of the Clean Water Act the state lags far behind the rest of the nation. Iowa has failed to adopt adequate clean water rules – thirty years after passage of the Act – that set a baseline and keep water quality from getting worse. If this baseline isn’t enforced, the state will continue to issue permits that allow increased pollution in the Iowa and other rivers. Faced with a growing load of sewage from both humans and livestock, it is no wonder that the Iowa River is one of the Most Endangered Rivers in America for 2007.
#4 Upper Delaware River (New York): The Wild and Scenic Upper Delaware River is the economic engine that drives a strong tourism-based economy in upstate New York, but that engine is threatened by a huge, proposed power line that would slash through 73 miles of the river corridor. Leaders from across the region have united in opposition to the plan, which would mean massive clear cutting, ongoing herbicide use and seizing property from landowners by eminent domain.