America's 21 Most Endangered Rivers

Map: America's 21 Most Endangered Rivers

If you're one of 142 million Americans heading to the outdoors this year, there's a good chance you'll run into one of at least 250,000 rivers in the country. Much of the nation's 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams provide drinking water, electric power, and critical habitat for fish and wildlife throughout. If you were to connect all the rivers in the United States into one long cord, it would wrap around the entire country 175 times. But as a recent assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency points out, we've done a pretty bad job of preserving the quality of these waters: In March, the EPA estimated that more than half of the nation's waterways are in "poor condition for aquatic life." (See them at the link.)

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For a country that touts having such riches we sure do not understand the meaning of that word. While our rivers and infrastructure are in dire need of attention members of Congress do nothing but debate wedge issues meant to pander for campaign dollars.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 designated free-flowing rivers that have "outstanding remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural and other similar values." The act states these rivers "shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations." However, by 1998 only 154 rivers had been designated covering only 10,000 miles of the 3.5 million total U.S. river miles. I find that to be sad and alarming.

I also find it ironic that the EPA would put out this report as if they are absolved from any blame at all. They are just now allowing the amount of Glyphosate sprayed on crops to be increased- Glyphosate which in tests has been found to be toxic which with nitrogen runoff and other pesticides used in great number is making the largest Gulf dead zone yet seen. The entire point of the legislation passed years ago was to protect our rivers, not subject them to the whims of corporate takeover.

I have little patience anymore for government agencies that continue to put out these reports while doing just the opposite regarding protecting our water. Let's see a bit more work on the EPA's part to then reign in corporate pollution of our waterways (and that includes fracking waste) and work to designate many more miles of rivers as part of this act.

Our rivers are our heritage and our lifelines. If they die so do we.

Also see:

The Clean Water Act: A Legacy Worth Saving