Coosa River Named One of America’s Most Endangered Rivers for 2010

Hydropower dams threaten cultural icon of the South

June 2nd, 2010

Matt Rice, American Rivers, (803) 422-5244
Mitch Reid, Alabama Rivers Alliance, (205) 322-6395
Judy Takats, World Wildlife Fund, (615) 279-1814

Washington, DC — Hydropower dams have already caused a mass extinction of wildlife on the Coosa River, and unless dam operations change, the South will lose even more of its priceless natural heritage on the Coosa. This threat landed the Coosa River in the number ten spot in America’s Most Endangered Rivers™: 2010 edition, produced by American Rivers.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve dam operations on the Coosa River for people and wildlife,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “If we don’t act now the region will lose a vital piece of its natural heritage.”

American Rivers and its partners called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to meet their responsibility and ensure the new operating license for dam owner Alabama Power includes key protections for the river and its fish and wildlife.

“In one of the most biologically diverse freshwater places in the world – the southeastern United States – the Coosa River stands out as a gem as one of the most biologically diverse rivers.  Protecting this river is important for both aquatic life and human health,” said Judy Takats with World Wildlife Fund.

The Coosa is the most developed river in Alabama, and only some of the river’s 275 miles still flow freely.  Most of the Coosa River is trapped behind seven Alabama Power Company dams. The construction of these dams doomed many of the Coosa’s native fish and wildlife to extinction.  FERC’s relicensing of Alabama Power’s dams is the first opportunity in half a century to improve river conditions for people, fish, and wildlife, ensuring a future for 21 federally listed species in the area.

About America’s Most Endangered Rivers™

Each year, American Rivers reviews nominations for the America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ report from river groups and concerned citizens across the country. Rivers are selected based upon the following criteria:

  • A major decision (that the public can help influence) in the coming year on the proposed action
  • The significance of the threat to human and natural communities
  • The degree to which the proposed action would exacerbate or alleviate stresses caused by climate change

The report is a call to action and emphasizes solutions for the rivers and their communities. By shining the spotlight on key decisions that will impact the rivers, and by providing clear actions the public can take on their behalf, the report is a powerful tool for saving these important rivers.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ is sponsored by Orvis, the oldest mail order company in the US, which has been outfitting customers for the sporting traditions since 1856. Orvis is a long-time supporter of American Rivers.  This is the second consecutive year that they have sponsored America’s Most Endangered Rivers and have also provided American Rivers with a 2010 Conservation Grant.  Orvis donates 5% of their pre-tax profits annually to protect nature.
 
Interviews

American Rivers Senior Vice President for Conservation Andrew Fahlund and Associate Director Matt Rice in Columbia, SC are available for interviews, both pre and post embargo.  Please contact Amy Kober, 206-898-3864 for booking.

Reporters wishing to direct readers to the report online may use the following link:  www.AmericanRivers.org/EndangeredRivers


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About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.