University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Friday Favorites Blogroll: American Rivers

May 2, 2014Patrick NunnallyRiversComments Off on Friday Favorites Blogroll: American Rivers

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of nonprofit groups working to preserve and enhance river health across the country.  Add the many “Friends of…” groups that support very local efforts on small streams and there are perhaps thousands of organizations working to enhance naturally flowing waters in the United States.

To my knowledge, though, only one, American Rivers, focuses on river health at the national scale.  Headquartered in Washington DC and with offices across the country, American Rivers engages in policy work, assists local and regional campaigns, and catalogs successes and threats to the nation’s rivers.

One of the best-known campaigns that American Rivers conducts is the annual “Most Endangered Rivers” announcement every spring.  These rivers, usually numbering ten but sometimes a couple more, become the focus for articles, blog posts and advocacy campaigns.  It even sometimes happens that the concerted effort and attention from listing results in improvements to the conditions that threatened the river, in which case American Rivers is a source for “success stories.”

This year, as is too often the case, a stretch of the Mississippi River has made the list.  Part of the Middle Mississippi River is threatened by a proposed levee at New Madrid, MO, which would cut off an ecologically significant floodway from renewal by main stem waters.  Both the EPA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have referred to the proposal to block the floodway as a disaster of historic proportions.  Moreover, the levee would encourage inappropriate development in the floodway, making its use as flood relief during high water events such as the 2011 floods more difficult.  The project makes no sense except to a very few, and to the bureaucratic inertia that has gathered behind it over the past few decades.

American Rivers notes that rivers such as the Middle Mississippi are at a “turning point” where their future is in the balance.  This isn’t a list of “worst” rivers, or “most polluted” rivers, or “rivers where the damage affects the most people.”  Unfortunately there are many candidates for all of those “Worst Of…” lists.  The “Most Endangered” list focuses our attention to rivers at the brink of failure, and by doing so, reminds us of the many ways a  river can fail, or, happily, succeed.


Tagged , ,

Related Posts

Comments are closed.

Contact Us!
Send us a note at to make suggestions for other places we should look, media to track, and stories to tell!
River Life in Video
Come Along for a Water Walk with Kare11 and River Life, and see Gifts at Work: The Mississippi River by the University of Minnesota Foundation
Open Rivers: Rethinking the Mississippi
A joint project of River Life, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal that recognizes the Mississippi River as a space for timely and critical conversations about people, community, water, and place.