University of Minnesota
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“most Endangered” Rivers List Highlights Variety of Threats

Every year, American Rivers puts out its “Most Endangered Rivers” list, an event that serves to rally the river advocacy community around a few top threats around the country.  Every year, the list, found here, highlights small formerly-obscure rivers as well as a few of the “headliners,” such as the Colorado or the Mississippi.  While the threats are disheartening, the range of efforts being made to address those threats is always instructive.

One thing that stood out on this year’s list is the number of rivers that are listed because of “outdated water management” that pays insufficient to the range of goods and services that our rivers provide.  It seems to me that a systematic study of those water management plans, and how they might be improved, combined with examples of really good water management plans, would be a great study, highly valuable to all of us engaged in this work of planning toward sustainable, multi-functional rivers.

Another interesting question: how has the Most Endangered list changed over time and what do those changes tell us?  If the earlier threats aren’t showing up as rationales for inclusion, does that mean the “state of the rivers” is improving, at least in terms of response to some types of threat?

Anyone know of such a study, or one approximating it?  Maybe we’ll have to start one up here–got a lot of students looking for good projects!


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One Comment

  1. Lark WellerApril 29, 2013 at 10:57 am

    The 2007 report by the National Research Council, “Mississippi River Water Quality and the Clean Water Act: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities,” is a great effort that addresses at least part of what you’re calling for–assessing how the Clean Water Act does/not provide for adequate management and protection of the Mississippi, nationally.

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