Bi-partisan expert panel proposes nationwide system of water trails
Report by Outdoor Resources Review Group highlights American Rivers' leadership protecting rivers and clean waterJuly 6th, 2009
<P>Jamie Mierau, 202-347-7550<BR>Amy Kober, 206-213-0330 x23</P>
(Washington, DC) — A new wide-ranging report released today by the private, bipartisan Outdoor Resources Review Group recommends creating a new nationwide system of water trails to protect clean water, and promote recreation, health, and economic growth. The report highlights the leadership of American Rivers in establishing new strategies like water trails to protect the nation’s rivers and clean water.
Water trails, or “blue trails” are the water equivalent of hiking trails, and are magnets for anglers, paddlers, and other recreationists. And, because they help safeguard riverside lands, wildlife habitat, and cool, clean water, blue trails are a useful tool to help communities prepare for climate change impacts like hotter temperatures, floods, and droughts.
“Paddlers and anglers love blue trails for the recreation opportunities they offer, and community leaders love blue trails because they create new economic opportunities, protect clean drinking water and public health, and deliver a host of other valuable services,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers.
American Rivers called on Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) this year. Under Representative Norm Dicks’s (D-WA) leadership, the House of Representatives provided an investment of almost $400 million for the LWCF. These funds will be used across the country to protect critical watersheds and, in conjunction with previously preserved waterways, will form the base of the national blue trails system.
“Climate change is hitting our rivers and clean water first and worst,” added Wodder. “Blue trails can be an excellent solution for communities looking for flexible, reliable and cost-effective solutions to deal with impacts like increased flooding, pollution and drought.”
American Rivers is forging partnerships with land trusts, local governments, state and federal agencies, and other groups to create blue trails as an innovative way to protect clean water and riverside lands, while promoting recreation, economic development, and community vitality. In South Carolina, American Rivers recently dedicated the Congaree and Wateree River Blue Trails and launched an effort to establish a blue trail on the Waccamaw River. American Rivers also published the Blue Trails Guide (www.BlueTrailsGuide.org) to help other communities who are interested in developing blue trails.
“There are more than 3.5 million miles of rivers across our country, and most Americans live within a mile of a river or stream,” said Wodder. “American Rivers is dedicated to helping communities establish blue trails so they can enjoy the many benefits that a healthy river offers, now and for generations to come.”
The ORRG project, co-chaired by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), is the first major assessment of outdoor resources since the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors in 1987.