Choices On The Gila Reflect Choices For Our Future
Today’s guest blog about the #4 Gila River- a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series- is from Jason Amaro. Jason Amaro lives in Silver City, NM – a gateway community to the Gila National Forest. A Board Member of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Jason can also be found on his blog, www.TheNewMexicoSportsman.com.
I have known the Gila River my whole life. More than just a river, it is the lifeblood of the Gila Wilderness. Living so close to all this public treasure has to offer, I have had a lifetime of amazing experiences hunting and fishing – and I have already started sharing new ones with my young son.
I am not alone. Sportsmen and women come from all over to have their own adventure in the Gila. The elk and deer are world-class. The Gila River is widely known as the only warm water trout fishery in America. Only here can you catch a wild trout and a flathead catfish in the same stretch of water.
For the many people and businesses in southwest New Mexico that support hunters and anglers, the Gila River is also the basis of their livelihood. This might all change if we don’t take action now.
The Gila River is the last free flowing river in New Mexico without a major dam or diversion. Whether this will continue to be the case is currently up for debate. The outcome of that debate could dramatically alter the future of the river, the land and the communities who depend on them.
The people holding the fate of the river in their hands have two main options:
One: Costly diversion construction that would change the river, scar this landscape with pipes, harm the wildlife and still not reliably produce much water. The efficacy of this option has been seriously questioned by engineering experts and would cost more than the federal funding available.
Two: Invest only currently available federal funds in a series of conservation projects including agricultural improvements, watershed restoration, and effluent reuse, which would make available triple the water more quickly and more dependably.
I live here. I know how much water matters now and for the future of our communities. I know how much it matters for our children and their children. The choice is an easy one. We need to invest in conservation alternatives and smarter water management tools that save water and save the Gila.
The Gila River is the last river in New Mexico without a major dam. Let’s keep it that way.
Tell the Chairman of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission that water diversion projects are too costly for the environment and for taxpayers. New Mexico must embrace water conservation to meet future water needs and keep the Gila River flowing strong.