Celebrating Independence Day in a Nation of River Advocates!


This is a guest blog from American Rivers’ Blue Trails intern William Meadows.


This week we celebrated the United States of America’s 236th birthday. Fireworks could be seen in every direction here in the nation’s capital, location of American Rivers’ headquarters.

This week we celebrated the United States of America’s 236th birthday. Fireworks could be seen in every direction here in the nation’s capital. The now celebratory “bombs bursting in air” illuminated the beloved Anacostia and Potomac rivers with every color imaginable. And all over the country Americans were letting off fireworks and coming together on their hometown rivers to mark the day! It is a special day indeed. 

July 4th is a day to celebrate our independence as a nation, our freedom and pursuit of happiness. Protecting and enjoying our rivers is one of those pursuits. From clean drinking water to outstanding recreation opportunities, to the intrinsic value of wilderness to the immense economic benefits of a healthy river, we have the power to decide whether the value of a healthy river outweighs its degradation for only short-term gains. 

So what are America’s river accomplishments over the course of this wild history? There are many! To start, we have succeeded in passing key legislation that protects and restores our rivers including the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and others. We have established national parks and wilderness and protected more than 12,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers!  We have restored rivers across the country by removing countless dams that no longer make sense. We have begun to value the diverse benefits of rivers. We have come together as a nation of river advocates! We have created a movement!

Yet today our rivers are more under threat then they have ever been. Pollution, climate change and energy issues such as fracking, loss of habitat, and rollbacks to the Clean Water Act are just some of the challenges we face. 

The front of a major D.C. newspaper’s 4th of July print included a picture of fireworks behind the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. As the amazing statue of Dr. King overlooks the Potomac River, it is evident how far we have come as a nation. The fight ahead to protect our rivers will require no less strength and determination that Dr. King carried with him, and is still carried today, to achieve equal rights. We have celebrated our past achievements and we must continue to fight for healthy rivers and communities for the sake of our children and theirs.

Start now by taking action to protect the Potomac River from threats by pollution and runoff!