Washington, DC - Rivers and the many clean water, recreation, and health benefits they provide are a primary focus in a report released today by the Obama Administration detailing its America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
American Rivers applauded the focus on rivers, but cautioned that cuts to clean water safeguards proposed in Congress would mean more sewage and pollution in our waterways, threatening public health.
The report, which presents the administration’s vision for conservation in the 21st century, echoes American Rivers’ recommendations and calls for the creation of blueways, also known as blue trails or water trails, to give portions of rivers special attention for restoration and access. The report also recommends managing federal lands and waters in a larger context to promote ecosystem health, while preparing for droughts and other impacts of climate change. Further, the administration aims to engage youth in land and water restoration by establishing a Conservation Service Corps.
“Rivers truly are the arteries of America's Great Outdoors,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “Most Americans live within a mile of a river or stream, so rivers are essential to our health and quality of life. Rivers and blueways provide a great opportunity for people to experience the outdoors and connect with nature. We applaud the administration for listening to the groundswell of grassroots support for river protection and restoration.”
“But we can’t have our children swimming in sewage. We don’t want polluted water flowing out of our faucets. When we cast a line we want to catch a fish, not a piece of trash. Congress must reject proposed cuts and newly-minted loopholes that would make our rivers unsafe for drinking water and recreation.”
The Republican House Majority’s recent budget proposal is an assault on programs that protect the health and safety of America’s water. For example, the budget cuts the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund by 67 percent. Learn more about proposals to cut clean water safeguards.
American Rivers led the effort over the past nine months to ensure the administration heard the strong groundswell of support from businesses, paddlers, anglers, and youth for America’s Great Outdoors priorities including blueways and other river conservation solutions.
A blueway is a dedicated stretch of river that enjoys special clean water safeguards and is a destination for fishing, boating and other recreation. Just as hiking trails are designed to help people explore the land, blueways help people discover rivers. Blueways provide a fun, exciting way to get kids outdoors, connect urban and rural communities to treasured landscapes, and are economic drivers benefiting local businesses and quality of life. A new video, available at www.AmericanRivers.org/bluetrailsvideo highlights the benefits and broad support for blueways.
Key recommendations in the America’s Great Outdoors report include:
• Creating a national blueways initiative to give portions of rivers special attention for restoration and access.
• Managing federal lands and waters in a larger context to promote ecosystem and watershed health, and to increase their resilience and prepare for drought and other impacts of climate change.
• Fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which protects riverside lands and wildlife habitat.
• Establishing a Conservation Service Corps to engage youth in land and water restoration.
To learn more about rivers and America’s Great Outdoors, visit www.americanrivers.org
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.