America's Most Endangered Rivers

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Today, American Rivers released its list of America’s Ten Most Endangered Rivers. The nonprofit group stands up for healthy rivers, and has compiled this list based on the magnitude of threat faced by the rivers, major decisions that could impact the health of the rivers, and the regional or national significance of the river.

Making this list doesn’t mean a river is polluted, but it does mean degradation looms in the near future. It also seems that the rivers listed change from year to year, so this is not a list of the worst, or most endangered, so much as a list of currently threatened waterways.

My question is this: Why, in today’s enlightened atmosphere, where the environment is finally becoming a mainstream issue, do we have rivers that are endangered? Why, when human life depends on clean water, would we take actions that threaten the lifeblood of our species?

What can we do about it? We can make sure our leaders in our state capitals and Washington know how important rivers are to our environmental and economic health. We can make sure we don’t mow to close to out backyard streams. We can reduce our use of lawn chemicals. We can build rain gardens that allow water to sink into the ground instead of running off into storm sewers, which in turn run into our rivers.

We can also spend out leisure time along rivers and in natural areas, which sends a strong message to political leaders. When parks and rivers are visibly loved, it will make it that much tougher to make political deals that allow for their destruction. Now, get outside and enjoy a river!

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