Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

10 Most Endangered U.S. Rivers of 2018 Ranked​

Climate
Big Sunflower River (Mississippi). American Rivers

American Rivers released its America's Most Endangered Rivers report Tuesday identifying ten rivers under imminent threat.

The annual report, now in its 33rd year, is unique in its spotlight on the Trump administration and industry-friendly members of Congress pushing policies that directly harm the iconic rivers.


"In our many years of issuing the America's Most Endangered Rivers report, we've seldom seen a collection of threats this severe, or an administration so bent on undermining and reversing protections for clean water, rivers and public health," said Bob Irvin, president of the national river conservation organization, in a statement provided to EcoWatch.

"This is the kind of destruction that will be difficult and, in some cases, impossible to reverse. If the Trump administration and its supporters in Congress succeed in rolling back bedrock environmental protections and handing over our rivers to polluters, the health, well-being and natural heritage of our nation's families and communities will be impoverished for generations to come. We cannot let that happen."

American Rivers

Topping this year's list is Mississippi's Big Sunflower River, home to a rich diversity of wetlands, fish and wildlife. The river is under threat from a measure that retiring Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) inserted into the Senate's 2018 Omnibus bill that would revive the Yazoo Backwater Area Pumping Plant, or Yazoo Pumps project.

The $220 million proposal to build the world's largest pump, which proponents say is necessary for flood control and would help the local economy, has been gestating since 1941. But it has long been opposed by environmentalists and even Sen. John McCain of Arizona who called it "one of the worst projects ever conceived by Congress" back in 2004. The project was vetoed in 2008 by President George W. Bush's EPA under the Clean Water Act.

American Rivers said, "In reality, this is an agricultural drainage project that would benefit highly subsidized big agribusiness while increasing flood risk downstream and harming low income communities that depend on the area's natural resources (i.e., subsistence fish and/or wildlife)."

The group warns the Yazoo Pumps project could damage more than 200,000 acres of wetlands in the Big Sunflower River watershed in the heart of the Mississippi River Flyway. More than 450 species of fish and wildlife, including the Louisiana black bear, rely on the wetlands habitat that would be drained by the project.

"The Yazoo Pumps are a boondoggle of the worst kind," said Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, in a statement. "Why would anyone want to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to destroy an astonishing 200,000 acres of vital fish and wildlife habitat—just to benefit a few landowners? This project is pure folly that falls apart under the slightest scrutiny."

Big Sunflower isn't the only river directly impacted by actions in Washington. Rivers of Bristol Bay in Alaska (No. 2 on the list), home to a $1.5 billion salmon fishery, is at risk from a open-pit mine project that has stalled for years but has moved forward under the Trump administration. The Lower Rio Grande in Texas (No. 4 on the list) is threatened by President Trump's controversial border wall that would block people from accessing the river, exacerbate flooding, and destroy wildlife habitat.

Here are the ten rivers on this year's list:

1. Big Sunflower River, MS

  • Threat – Army Corps pumping project
  • At Risk – Critical wetlands and wildlife habitat

2. Rivers of Bristol Bay, AK

  • Threat – Mining
  • At risk – Clean water, salmon runs, indigenous culture

3. Boundary Waters, MN

  • Threat – Mining
  • At risk – Clean water, recreation economy

4. Lower Rio Grande, TX

  • Threat – Border wall
  • At risk – River access, public safety, wildlife habitat

5. South Fork Salmon River, ID

  • Threat – Mining
  • At risk – Clean water, salmon habitat

6. Mississippi River Gorge, MN

  • Threat – Dams
  • At risk – Habitat, recreation opportunities

7. Smith River, MT

  • Threat – Mining
  • At risk – Clean water, recreation

8. Colville River, AK

  • Threat – Oil and gas development
  • At risk – Clean water, wildlife

9. Middle Fork Vermilion River, IL

  • Threat – Coal ash pollution
  • At risk – Clean water, Wild and Scenic River values

10. Kinnickinnic River, WI

  • Threat – Dams
  • At risk – Blue-ribbon trout stream

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

People relax in Victoria Gardens with the Houses of Parliament in the background in central London, as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius on June 25, 2020. NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP via Getty Images

The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.

Read More Show Less
A crowd of people congregate along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020, amid a surge in coronavirus cases. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP / Getty Images

By Melissa Hawkins

After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.

Read More Show Less
A Chesapeake Energy drilling rig is located on farmland near Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 2012. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

Climate advocates pointed to news Sunday that fracking giant Chesapeake Energy was filing for bankruptcy as further evidence that the fossil fuel industry's collapse is being hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and called for the government to stop propping up businesses in the field.

Read More Show Less
Youth participate in the Global Climate Strike in Providence, Rhode Island on September 20, 2019. Gabriel Civita Ramirez / CC by 2.0

By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud

Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?

Read More Show Less
A crowd awaits the evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota on June 23, 2012. Mindy / Flickr

Fire experts have already criticized President Trump's planned fireworks event for this Friday at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial as a dangerous idea. Now, it turns out the event may be socially irresponsible too as distancing guidelines and mask wearing will not be enforced at the event, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Mountains of produce, including eggs, milk and onions, are going to waste as the COVID-19 pandemic shutters restaurants, restricts transport, limits what workers are able to do and disrupts supply chains. United States government work

By Emma Charlton

Gluts of food left to rot as a consequence of coronavirus aren't just wasteful – they're also likely to damage the environment.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The gates of the unusually low drought-affected Carraizo Dam are seen closed in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico on June 29, 2020. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP via Getty Images)

Puerto Rico's governor declared a state of emergency on Monday after a severe drought on the island left 140,000 people without access to running water, despite the necessary role that hand washing and hygiene plays in stopping the novel coronavirus, as The Independent reported.

Read More Show Less