Upper Mississippi seen as one of nation's most endangered rivers

American Rivers has released its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers, identifying 10 rivers facing imminent threats. 

This year’s report spotlights the threat that climate change poses to rivers, clean water supplies, public safety and communities nationwide.

The mission of American Rivers, as posted on its website, is to protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers and conserve clean water for people and nature. The organization has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Upper Mississippi River was ranked as number 3 on the list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers.

The Upper Mississippi includes the river from Cairo to Minnesota. Union County is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River.

American Rivers stated in a news release that increased flooding is occurring throughout the Upper Mississippi basin due to climate change. 

Choking the river with new levees and traditional flood control structures threatens public safety by making flooding worse downstream, the organization added.

The Gila River in New Mexico was listed as America’s Most Endangered River. The Hudson River in New York was number two on the list.

The other rivers on the list included, in order: the Green-Duwamish River in Washington, the Willamette River in Oregon, the Chilkat River in Alaska, the South Fork Salmon River in Idaho, the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, Big Darby Creek in Ohio and the Stikine River in Alaska.

“Climate change is striking rivers and water supplies first and hardest,” said Bob Irvin, president and CEO of American Rivers. 

“America’s Most Endangered Rivers is a call to action. We must speak up and take action, because climate change will profoundly impact every river and community in our country. Healthy rivers are our best defense against droughts, floods and the impacts of a changing climate.”

“Our nation is at a crossroads. If we continue to degrade and abuse our rivers, we will compromise our ability to deal with increasingly severe droughts and floods. But if we protect and restore our rivers in thoughtful and equitable ways that do not perpetuate the mistakes of the past, we can strengthen our communities and create a more secure future,” Irvin said.

“We are committed to spotlighting threats and working with communities on solutions that benefit people and rivers. We believe everyone in our country deserves clean water and a healthy river.”

In its 34th 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. 

Rivers are chosen for the list based on the following criteria: The magnitude of the threat. The significance of the river to people and nature. A critical decision-point in the coming year. 

Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.

The Gazette-Democrat

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