Healthy rivers are essential to our livelihoods and wildlife
Photo: Jonathan Buford
In the arid West we are all connected by rivers; they are the lifeblood of our land, our economy, our way of life. Western rivers, like the Colorado River and its tributaries, provide water for tens of millions of people, including Native American tribes and the major cities of Albuquerque, Denver, Phoenix, and Tucson. The Colorado River also irrigates nearly six million acres of farms and ranches.
We aren’t alone in our reliance on western rivers. Many birds and wildlife depend on these riparian habitats. The Colorado River and its tributaries support some of the most abundant and diverse bird communities in the arid West, serving as home to some 400 species.
Unfortunately, western rivers are at risk. Ongoing drought, diversions, and demand are triggering declines in water supply as well as declines in cottonwood-willow forests and native marsh river habitat. Many of the birds that depend on these rivers and habitat, such as the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Bell’s Vireo, are in decline.
However, together we can help. We can advocate for conservation actions that maintain river and groundwater levels, enhance the health of our environment, restore valuable habitat, and promote reliable water supplies for humans, birds, fish, and wildlife.
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