America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2023 — @AmericanRivers

Click the link to read the article on the American Rivers website:

A workgroup, of sorts, on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism



The Colorado River’s Grand Canyon is one of our nation’s, and the world’s, greatest natural treasures. A sacred place of deep cultural significance, it is also a beloved recreation and travel destination, and home to endangered plants and animals. But rising temperatures and severe drought driven by climate change, combined with outdated river management and overallocation of limited water supplies, put this iconic river at serious risk. As it makes critical decisions about water management along the Colorado River, the Bureau of Reclamation must consider the environment a key component of public health and safety and prioritize the ecological health of the Grand Canyon.

The confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers is at Cairo, Illinois. By ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center, NASA –, Public Domain,



The Ohio River unifies 30 million people across 15 states, from New York to Mississippi. Protecting this precious resource is essential to ensuring the endurance of cultural identity, historical significance, biodiversity, vibrant river communities, and safe drinking water. But the upper river is threatened by industrialization and pollution, recently exemplified by the East Palestine train derailment. This ongoing chemical disaster underscores the vulnerability of the Ohio River and need for increased safeguards and durable funding for additional and continuous monitoring. To protect the Ohio River, Congress must designate the river as a federally protected water system and commit to significantly fund both the Ohio River Restoration Plan and Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission’s technical upgrades.



The Pearl River is one of the most biodiverse rivers in the U.S. and the primary drinking water source for Jackson, Mississippi. But this natural treasure is threatened by a devastating private real estate development scheme masquerading as a flood control project. This “One Lake” project would dredge and dam the Pearl River to create new waterfront property, destroying vital fish and wildlife habitat, worsening Jackson’s flooding and drinking water crisis, increasing toxic contamination, and reducing freshwater flows critical to the region’s important seafood and tourism economies. The Biden administration must stop this project and invest in environmentally-sustainable flood relief for the predominantly Black community of Jackson while protecting the Pearl River and all the communities and economies that rely on it. 

Ansel Adams The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the National Park Service. (79-AAG-1). By Ansel Adams – This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing., Public Domain,



Salmon in the Columbia-Snake River basin are on the brink of extinction in large part due to four dams on the lower Snake in eastern Washington. Restoring salmon runs and honoring treaties and responsibilities with Tribal Nations across the region requires removal of these four dams. Momentum and support for this river restoration effort is growing, but it is critical that the hydropower, transportation, and irrigation services of the dams are replaced before dam removal can begin. The region’s congressional delegation and the Biden administration must act with urgency to invest in infrastructure so that the dams can be removed, setting the Northwest on a course to climate resilience, economic strength, abundant salmon, and cultural revitalization.

Clark Fork River, Missoula, Montana, USA. By The original uploader was Sooter at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0,



The Clark Fork is a regional boating and angling destination and supplies some of the richest habitat in the lower 48. Throughout European settlement and industrial development, the Clark Fork was the backbone of large-scale enterprises that left a legacy of pollution and ecological damage. Community members, advocates, Tribes, and government officials are among many who have been helping to heal the river, however, the shuttered Smurfit-Stone pulp mill threatens to reverse the gains made. Sitting along four miles of the Clark Fork downstream of Missoula, Montana, Smurfit-Stone is poisoning the groundwater and river with dioxins and heavy metals. These pollutants threaten fish and wildlife and put the health of Tribal subsistence fishers at risk. Through federal Superfund law, the polluters are responsible for cleaning up the site.



The Eel River once teemed with abundant native fish and other wildlife, supporting the Wiyot, Sinkyone, Lassik, Nongatl, Yuki and Wailaki peoples, who have lived along the river since time immemorial. Today the river’s Chinook salmon, steelhead, and Pacific lamprey are all headed toward extinction in large part because of two obsolete dams that make up Pacific Gas and Electric’s Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project. Together the dams completely block salmon migration and harm river habitat. The license for the dams recently expired and PG&E no longer wants to operate the facilities. It’s up to federal regulators to require PG&E to remove the dams as part of the decommissioning plan, expected during the fall of 2023.

The Lehigh River near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, 24 June 2002. By The original uploader was Malepheasant at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Matthiasb using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 2.0,



The Lehigh River, flowing out of the Appalachian Mountains and through the densely populated Lehigh Valley region, is the “backyard river” for half a million people, and the keystone to Northeastern Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation industry. The areas that surround the river offer outdoor gathering spaces and accessible recreation opportunities for folks throughout the watershed, but especially in the cities of Allentown, Easton, and Bethlehem. But as the region becomes the logistics hub of the eastern seaboard, with over four square miles of warehouses and distribution centers built to date, the river’s health is at risk. Unless federal, state and local decision makers act to improve protections for local waterways, the area’s clean water and wildlife habitat could suffer irreversible harm. 

Uppermost cataract of Klehini Falls. By Mbochart – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,



But the Palmer Project, a proposed copper and zinc mine, is about to move to the next stage of development, which could release hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic wastewater per day into nearby creeks that feed directly into the Klehini and Chilkat rivers, potentially crippling the entire ecosystem of the Chilkat Valley. This is in addition to the already concerning impacts of climate change, such as rapid glacier melting and a historic increase in rainfall. Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must act now to ensure the fundamental protections guaranteed by the federal Clean Water Act are not abandoned and a grave environmental injustice is not allowed.

Fishing on the Gallinas River near Las Vegas, New Mexico, Date: 1886 – 1888? J.R. Riddle Collection, Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico.



New Mexico’s waterways are among the most vulnerable in the United States. The Rio Gallinas is the poster child for the adverse impacts—both ecological and cultural — of climate change on Southwestern watersheds. The river provides water for Las Vegas, New Mexico, and for the traditional acequia irrigation system. Drinking water, farming, and overall watershed functionality are all threatened by climate change and outdated forest management practices. Furthermore, without a good connection to its floodplain and a loss of wetlands, the Rio Gallinas is less able to naturally store the water needed to maintain flows during periods of drought. 



The Okefenokee Swamp — a unique wetland nearly half a million acres in size — is threatened by a proposed titanium mine, which government agencies predict would result in permanent and unacceptable damage to this special place. In 2022, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers abdicated its responsibility for oversight of the proposed mine. The Corps’ decision leaves permitting to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, which must deny the permit applications for this ill-advised project. The Corps should make it clear that a federal Clean Water Act permit is required for the proposed mine. Perhaps no clearer case exists for why meaningful wetland protections at the federal level under the Clean Water Act are so important.