Conversations about the Rivers that Connect Us

To further the conversation about the value and complexity of rivers, American Rivers launched our podcast series, “We are Rivers: Conversations about the Rivers that Connect Us.”

“We Are Rivers” takes its listeners on a journey to tell the stories of rivers and the important relationship they have with us. It explores the culture and history of the west and our nation by talking with adventurers, writers, water experts, and artists about their connection to rivers, and how they impact their lives. The podcast series covers a wide array of topics across the Colorado Basin and other rivers across the country.

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Join us as we discover stories of success and challenges facing rivers across the west. Listen in today and take action today to protect the important rivers that connect us.

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Preview: We Are Rivers

“We Are Rivers” explores how our rivers are managed, but, more importantly, describes the incredible hope and immense capacity of human innovation to protect and restore rivers. Through “We Are Rivers,” American Rivers, a national river conservation organization, explores stories of rivers, people, and policies so that we may all connect, empathize, understand, and work to save our nation’s rivers.

Episode 1: The Value of Rivers

“The Value of Rivers” explores the value rivers have on our environment, economy, and way of life. Rivers contribute so much more than just a beautiful backdrop, they are magnets for biodiversity and life. In the Southwest, 90% of the nation’s winter fruits and vegetables are grown with water diverted from the Colorado River. Additionally, the Colorado River is economically significant with it and its tributaries contributing $1.4 trillion dollar to our economy. This includes $26 billion dollars annually through recreation alone. Join us in this episode of “We Are Rivers,” exploring the incredible value of western rivers.

Episode 2: The Law of the River

More than a century ago, populations across the west were booming. The seven states dependent on the Colorado River recognized the need to formally divide it, ensuring everyone received an appropriate amount of water. Ratified in 1922, the Colorado River Compact marked the beginning of how and why the Colorado River is managed as it is today.

But the Compact is only one thread in a much larger story. Because the whole basin’s demand for water is higher than what it can supply, the Colorado River has become both one of the most stringently managed, as well as aggressively disputed, rivers in the world. There are numerous other compacts, federal laws, court decisions, decrees, contracts, and guidelines that have been developed since the 1922 compact that dictate the challenging management of the Colorado River; these are collectively known as the “Law of the River.”

Episode 3: Turning Towards Solutions

“Turning Towards Solutions” builds upon our previous episode, “Law of the River.” Across the Colorado River Basin, collaboration, cooperation, and compromise between towns, districts, states, and basins is a common theme. “Turning Towards Solutions” explores how collaborative actions like the Drought Contingency Plan and Minute 319 (the pulse flow) are creating promise and opportunity for sustaining the Colorado River and the people and communities that depend on it. Tune in to hear about efforts to create a new pathway to preserve both this crucial resource, and the legacy of the entire southwest.

Episode 4: Beauty And Risk In The Grand Canyon

Join us on We Are Rivers as we discuss the challenges facing one of our country’s most amazing and iconic National Parks, the Grand Canyon in Episode 4: Beauty and Risk in the Grand Canyon.

Episode 5: Glen Canyon – Tough Decisions surround a Colorado River Flashpoint

Since its creation, through today, Glen Canyon Dam has had its supporters and adversaries. In episode 5 of the We Are Rivers podcast dives into issues, opinions, and controversy surrounding Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.

Episode 6: The Big Picture of Colorado’s Water Plan

In 2015, Colorado took a big first step towards protecting our rivers, heritage, and way of life with the completion of Colorado’s Water Plan. While there is still much to do, the plan creates a framework to help us understand the actions needed to achieve a balance between the water we have and the water we need. Colorado’s Water Plan set a new path towards a secure water future to protect our state’s rivers, secure clean, safe reliable drinking water for our communities, and preserve our agricultural heritage. Now, our water future depends on funding elements of the plan. Episode 6 of We are Rivers dives into the big picture of Colorado’s Water Plan.

Episode 7: Reflections on 2017

As the end of 2017 inches closer, staff at American Rivers reflect on how the past year has been for rivers. The Trump Administration was not kind to rivers or clean water. However, despite the many challenges working against us, staff at American Rivers’, along with our members, supporters, and listener’s just like you have worked diligently over the last 12 months to make our voices heard and ensure rivers across the country are protected.

Episode 8: Why Wild? The Importance of Wild and Scenic Protections

Amidst the largest dam building era in the United States, Congress realized urgency around preserving certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act into law, giving rivers a special designation to protect the remarkable values that free-flowing rivers have across the country. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management crossing political boundaries and promoting public participation to develop goals for river protection. In this episode of We Are Rivers, we dive into the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and how it protects rivers, ensures community engagement, and preserves free flowing rivers for present and future generations. Tune in to learn more.

Episode 9:  5,000 Miles of Wild®

In this week’s episode of We Are Rivers, we describe the impact we will make through the 5,000 Miles of Wild® campaign – including the protection of an additional 5,000 river miles and collecting 5,000 of your river stories. Stories cultivate and spread passion: your stories will illustrate the personal and cultural values of rivers to policy makers, and you can help the campaign by posting your own story at!

Episode 10: Securing Arizona’s Water Supply is a Team Effort

Arizona is a renowned leader in water management, thanks to more than a century of careful planning and effective leadership. But, with drought and declining water levels in the state’s key water supplies, Arizona must do more. Tune in to “Episode 10: Securing Arizona’s Water Supply is a Team Effort,” to hear how Arizona and other Lower Basin states are working together to reduce demand of the Colorado River through the Drought Contingency Plan.

Episode 11: How Water Management and Flexibility Can Save the Colorado River

In this episode of We Are Rivers, we explore the ideas and efforts behind expanded demand management and increased conservation across the Upper Basin with Scott Yates of Trout Unlimited and Taylor Hawes of The Nature Conservancy, both of whom are deeply integrated into the nuance and detail of developing a system that works for everyone who relies on the Colorado River, as well as the long-term, sustainable health of the Colorado River itself.

Episode 12: How Colorado’s Water Law Affects You and Our Rivers

in this month’s episode of We Are Rivers we navigate through the complicated nature of water law in the West, including prior appropriation, instream flow rights, and the history of water law.

Episode 13: Flames and Flows: How Wildfires Impact Healthy Rivers

In this episode of We Are Rivers, we explore how fire suppression has triggered today’s newsworthy mega-fires and how intricately connected wildfires are with the health of the rivers we love.

Episode 14: Colorado River Compact Call Part 1 — What Could a Call Mean

In Episode 14 of We Are Rivers, we explore what potential effects a “Compact Call” could have for communities within the Colorado River states and what we can do to avoid a crisis.

Episode 15: Colorado River Compact Call Part 2 — Reducing the Risk of a Call

In Episode 15 of We Are Rivers, we explore what the Upper Colorado River Basin States are doing to reduce the risk and potential effects of a “Compact Call.”

Episode 16: The Power of a Story

In Episode 16 of We Are Rivers, we take a break from understanding the policies that manage and protect our rivers to focus on why it is we care about protecting rivers in the first place.

Episode 17: America’s Most Endangered Rivers 2019

In Episode 17 of We Are Rivers, we dive into the America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2019 report to learn more about the big decisions facing rivers and communities in 2019 and what we can all do to help them.

Episode 18: Climate Change, Rivers and Environmental Justice

In Episode 18 of We Are Rivers, we discuss how Climate change hits rivers and water first and hardest, impacting all communities but particularly historically marginalized communities.

Episode 19: Downriver – The Story of The Green and How Rivers Connect Us All

In Episode 19 of We Are Rivers, we dive into the past, present and future of the Green River with Heather Hansman, an environmental reporter and former raft guide.

Episode 20: Urban Rivers – Restoration, Recreation, Recovery

In Episode 20 of We Are Rivers, we talk with Majora Carter, co-founder of the Bronx River Alliance, and Jenny Hoffner with American Rivers about why restoring and celebrating urban rivers is so important. 

Episode 21: Climate Change Part 1- Understanding the Science Behind It

In Episode 21 of We Are Rivers, we back-up broad-based knowledge about climate change with scientific explanations and address some questions from you about some of the impacts of climate change.

Episode 22: Climate Change Part 2 –Climate Change is Water Change

In Episode 22 of We Are Rivers, we build upon our knowledge of climate change science to explore changes affecting the already parched American Southwest.

Episode 23: From the Stanislaus to the Klamath: Speaking up for Free-flowing Rivers

In Episode 23 of We Are Rivers, we take a look at the cultural shift in how we value free-flowing rivers with Mark Dubois and Craig Tucker.

Episode 24: Understanding Colorado’s Instream Flow Program

In this episode we break down the complexities of the program, discuss the different tools that make up the Instream Flow Program, explore the program’s benefits and understand the collaborative nature of the program.

Episode 25: America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2020: Ensuring safer, stronger communities

In this episode we learn more about America’s #1 Most Endangered River for 2020 and the solutions that can help move our rivers and our nation forward.

Episode 26: South Carolina Communities Support the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge

In Episode 26 of We Are Rivers, we take a deeper look at the National Wildlife Refuge System and why it is so important to health of America’s natural resources.

Episode 27: We Can Make a Lot Happen When We Have a Plan – Part 1

Join us for a two-part miniseries of We Are Rivers. We’ll learn more about Colorado’s Stream Management Plans, an innovative planning tool prioritized in Colorado’s Water Plan, from people working with stakeholder groups and communities across Colorado to put them in place.

Episode 28: We Can Make a Lot Happen When We Have a Plan – Part 2

If you were inspired by the first Episode, make sure to tune in today. In the second episode, we hear from some of the same voices and from new ones from the Rio Grande Basin.

Episode 29: Water – We need it, it needs us – Part 1

Join us for a miniseries of We Are Rivers: Conversations about the Rivers that Connect Us. In this two-part conversation we are joined by our partners at the Hispanic Access Foundation for a conversation about the importance of water – including rivers, lakes and oceans – to the Latinx community.

Episode 30: Water – We need it, it needs us – Part 2

In the second of this two-part podcast, we are joined by our partners at the Hispanic Access Foundation for a conversation about the importance of water – including rivers, lakes and oceans – to the Latino community. We dive deeper into stories and personal connections to water from members of the Ocean’s Advisory Committee.

Episode 31: Transforming a Forgotten Creekside Park – The Little Walnut Creek Greenbelt

In Austin, Texas, community members in East Austin came together to restore a forgotten creekside park – what has become Little Walnut Creek Greenbelt. Join us today to learn about the community driven process to undertake a master plan effort and create a new vision for The Little Walnut Creek Greenbelt.

Episode 32: The River Is Who We Are – The Waccamaw Indian People and the Waccamaw River

Through displacement, genocide and enslavement, the Waccamaw Indian People sustain their river heritage. Join us today to learn more about the Waccamaw Indian People and their history with the Waccamaw River in coastal South Carolina. 

Episode 33: We Are Rivers – 2021 Preview

 Tune in to this episode for a sneak preview of the 2021 podcast series, learn about our new publishing schedule, and to get acquainted with your co-hosts, Fay Hartman and Page Buono.

Episode 34: Water Justice – at the confluence of environmental and social justice

Water Justice: what is it? In this episode, we talk with two experts in the field of environmental justice, Alicia Smith, Associate Director for Policy and Community Engagement Director at Freshwater Future and Kelsea Macilroy, instructor and PhD Candidate in the Sociology Department at Colorado State University.

Episode 35: A Bold Blueprint for Rivers

In this, our latest episode of the We Are Rivers Podcast, we learn about American River’s top priorities for the Biden-Harris administration. From investing in clean water to removing dams and providing renewed support for the Wild and Scenic River Act, we turn to our resident experts to learn about short and long term actions the new administration can take to improve the health and long-term resilience of the rivers we love, and the communities that rely on them.

Episode 36: Pastors of Good Doctrine

In our latest episode of the “We are Rivers” podcast, Pastores Juan and Rocio Almanza talk to us about the connection between faith and rivers. In this bilingual podcast, we learn about how Pastor Juan Almanza and Pastora Mary Rocio Cañas see stewardship as integral to their faith, and what that means for how they lead and serve.

Episode 37: America’s Most Endangered Rivers, 2021

 In mid-April, American River’s released the 2021 list of the country’s Most Endangered Rivers. The event was the culmination of a year’s worth of work inviting nominations and vetting rivers. It is, above all, an important opportunity to call attention to struggling rivers that are in need of our help, and where there’s an action we can take this year. Tune in to learn about the #1 Most Endangered River, and what you can do about it. 

Episode 38: When Rivers Flow, Things Are Good: On Water in Arizona

Jocelyn Gibbon is a river guide, and she’s also a water law and policy expert. When she isn’t guiding trips through the Grand Canyon, Jocelyn is a consultant for non-profits and other groups navigating the complex water world in Arizona and the Colorado River Basin. We embrace Jocelyn’s multiple talents to cover Arizona’s lesser-known rivers, the beauty of the grand canyon and the joys of guiding, and we get into the nitty gritty of water management, and lack thereof, for groundwater in Arizona. Tune in to learn more about the precipice Arizona is perched on, and what you can do about it.

Show notes: 
Water for Arizona Coalition:
Jocelyn Gibbon, Freshwater Policy Consulting: