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739,794 comments have been written in support of the finalization of the EPA and Army Corps proposed rule, “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act.”
On October 22, 2014 comments from several environmental organizations, including American Rivers, were delivered to EPA at Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Maryland along the Anacostia River. Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Water, Ken Kopocis, and Marie Therese Dominguez, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, U.S. Army (Civil Works), were at the park to receive the comments. Both were thrilled with the amount of comments collected so far.
Senator Cardin, a long-time advocate for clean water, also attended the event. He remarked that, “Clean water is too important to our families and the vital habitats for our country’s fish and wildlife for its protections to continue to undergo legal limbo.” The proposed rule is going to help achieve regulatory clarity after two Supreme Court cases muddled the scope of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction.
What is the Proposed Rule All About?
The proposed rule by EPA and the Army Corps clarifies which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act and includes all tributaries and adjacent wetlands as well as provides guidance on how to protect other waters. These waterways while seemingly insignificant are vital in preserving and enhancing the water quality for larger rivers and drinking water supplies. This is an important step forward to restoring the Clean Water Act’s historical levels of protection.
You Can Support the Proposed Rule
Are you one of over 7,000 people who submitted supportive comments for the proposed rule through American Rivers? If not, there is still time to let EPA and the Corps know that you care about clean water. The proposed rule is open for public comment though November 14, 2014. Protect clean water now!
What Happens Next?
Once all comments have been submitted, the EPA and Corps are going to take them into consideration when finalizing the rule. A final rule is projected to be introduced in the spring of 2015. Once final, the rule will be used by the EPA and the Corps to help identify which waters are jurisdictional and thus protected by the Clean Water Act. If a waterway is determined to be within the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction an entity will be subject to regulation if it wants to discharge pollutants into that waterway or fill the waterway in.
As Washington continues to lead the nation as the #1 Bicycle Friendly State in the US, the League of American Bicyclists has announced that the University of Washington is being upgraded from Silver level Bicycle-Friendly University to Gold.
The Leauge examines 5 different categories to determine where communities, states, businesses, and universities stand: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.
UW efforts to promote cycling on campus include self-service bicycle repair stations, a multitude of bike parking spaces throughout campus including bike rooms, lockers, and houses, and access to showers and clothes lockers for bicycle commuters.
In honor of this designation League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke will present the Gold award to UW Associate Vice President for Facilities Services Charles Kennedy Thursday, Oct. 30, in Architecture Hall on the UW campus at 7:00pm. The event kicks off UW’s annual November “Ride in the Rain” bike commute challenge. The event is free and open to the public.
A panel of speakers will discuss the role of universities as in the creation of bicycle friendly communities: Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly, Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker, and Nancy Rottle from the Green Futures Research and Design Lab.
Not only has UW been recognized by the League but four Washington Businesses are being recognized as Bicycle Friendly.Bicycle Friendly Businesses — New in 2014
Congratulations to these universities and businesses for contributing to our ever-growing bicycle friendly state!
For a complete list of Bike Friendly communities, businesses, and universities around the state head to our Bicycle Friendly Washington page. Past recipients update their information on a three-year cycle; Bicycle Friendly Community and State rankings are announced each spring.
This month WTA is working in several locations that need some special attention, and we'd love to have your help! Join us for a day full of safety, fun, and work, and make your mark on the trails you love.
No experience is needed to join a work party, and anyone is welcome. We'll teach you what you need to know and find the right job for you. For more information on what to expect when you join us on trail, check out our FAQ page.Southwest Washington - Battle Ground Lake State Park 1/2 day
Join WTA and spend just half a day of giving back to trails at a beautiful camping park near a lake in the Cascade foothills. We'll be helping reroute the popular lower lake trail to slightly higher ground, and brushing where needed. It's a one-mile hike to the project area on flat ground. The shortened time of the work party allows both the young and the young at heart to dedicate a few hours of time to trails before exploring the park on your own!
The Skokomish River has a bad habit of changing course, taking sections of trail with it. Efforts to restore or repair the trail have been ongoing, and WTA is working here doing logout, brushing, retread and a short reroute around a couple of problem areas. This is a very old trail that may have been an Native American route through the Olympic Mountains, meandering through both ancient forest and areas that have seen logging, and parallelling the South Fork of the Skokomish River. Hikers wander for miles, stopping by historic points of interest, including the old LeBar Claim, and Roosevelt Elk can be observed throughout the river basin.
Despite their relatively short length, the trails at Sharpe Park need some major repair in order to get them up to standard. Join us as we work at this unique location, home to the largest undeveloped waterfront on Fidalgo Island.
We'll be rebuilding sections of rooty and rocky trails. In addition, expect to do a bit of general maintenance on some of the park's more popular, established trails. So come for a day of trail work near Anacortes, and afterwards, explore this little-known gem on Fidalgo Island.
Today’s post on the Disappearing Rio Grande Expedition is a guest blog by reporter Colin McDonald. Read more about the expedition here.Paddling into the canyon | Colin McDonald
The 1,500-foot sheer walls of Santa Elena Canyon have been a mainstay of river guides along the Rio Grande for generations.
The massive, immovable layers of limestone are carved like hand-cut stone by the persistence of moving water.
This is the kind of place that national parks were created to protect so the public would come and see. It is a place I would feel guilty visiting without my fiance, Jenna. We spent two days floating through with our friend Benjamin Weaver in a raft offered to us by local guide Mike Long. He encouraged us to go slow. The 16 miles pass too fast if you paddle.
It is the kind of place that, even when floating through with the knowledge of how giant river cane and truncated flows are changing the river’s ecosystem, it is nearly impossible to not let your jaw drop as you stare at the cliffs.
Tomorrow, I will launch on the Rio Grande with 13 other paddlers to discover more of such places. The group is coming from both coasts and the Midwest with a set of skills and experiences ranging from professional kayaker Nick Gottlieb, who excels at running kayaks down rock-strewn waterfalls, to renewable-energy expert Dan Reicher, who was a member of the 1977 National Geographic and Dartmouth College-sponsored expedition of the full length of the Rio Grande. We also have Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers, who spends his days advocating for rivers to function as rivers.
Over dinner, we talked about national and international water policy, the Endangered Species Act, water pollution and whitewater. We are getting to know each other and so far this is what we have in common.
But what we will bond over this upcoming week is the river. It is the reason we have all traveled so far. None of us want to pass up an opportunity to get on a river like this.The Rio Grande has been the lifeblood of the valleys and civilizations it flowed through for more than 3,000 years. As cities and farms suck it dry and a warming climate makes it evaporate faster, the river’s future has never been more uncertain. Reporter Colin McDonald and photojournalist Erich Schlegel are traveling the length of the Rio Grande, interviewing those who depend on and control it, taking photos, and cataloging the chemistry and biology of the river from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico.
Our friends at The Nature Conservancy made big news yesterday when they announced the historic acquisition of 47,921 acres of land in the Central Cascades along I-90 near Cle Elum.
While conservation of the ecologically rich area is a primary goal, recreational access will remain a key aspect of how they hope to manage the land.Where is the land?
The property sits on both sides of I-90 between Snoqualmie Pass and Ellensburg in a popular area for hikers from all over the state. It is adjacent to the Teanaway Community Forest, touches three lakes: Keechelus, Kachess and Cle Elum and sits at the headwaters of the Yakima River. A portion of the land acquisition is also in the Little Naches headwaters, accessible by highway 410.
The Nature Conservancy says it plans to engage with local partners and communities as it creates the best way to manage the lands for wildlife, recreation and as a source of clean water in the Upper Yakima Basin.
In a clear message to the hikers who wonder if they'll be able to explore the lands, Melissa Garvey, the Deputy State Director of TNC told the Seattle PI, "We’re not just about forest restoration, we’re allowing public access for recreation.”Read more
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) must make a decision soon whether to move forward with plans to build a diversion project on the Gila River – one of American Rivers’ Most Endangered Rivers in 2014 – under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA). In a mere six weeks, the ISC will hold a meeting to make their decision. In my two previous blog posts, I outlined both the historic and current threats to the Gila: New Mexico’s last free-flowing river. To quickly recap, the AWSA provides $100 million in federal funding to meet water supply demands in Southwestern New Mexico. With this money, the State of New Mexico can either construct a diversion project on the Gila River OR finance any water project that meets regional water supply demand, including cost-effective municipal and agricultural conservation measures.
The Interstate Stream Commission is currently considering several large diversion projects that would take Gila River water and pump it over the Continental Divide to cities and farms outside the Colorado River Basin. According to a federal study, the costs of each proposed Gila River diversion alternative would outweigh the potential benefits to farmers and cities. A former ISC director also estimates that the cost of a diversion project on the Gila could exceed $1 billion. The AWSA subsidy won’t cover the full cost of the project, leaving a gap of $900 million for New Mexico taxpayers and water users to cover. All for a diversion project that will be difficult to build due to its remote location and will yield much less than a third of the legally available water due to the variable nature of Gila River flows, evaporation, and reservoir seepage. The diversion project will also negatively impact the unique hydrology and ecology of the Gila River.
Under AWSA, New Mexico has the choice to immediately spend $66 million on non-diversion water supply projects that will meet regional water supply need without building a costly, unnecessary diversion project that will leave many New Mexican taxpayers holding the bag for years to come.
Contact Governor Susana Martinez TODAY to say NO to a costly, unnecessary diversion project that will ultimately harm both the people of New Mexico and the Gila River; and to support cost-effective, non-diversion alternatives that will help meet regional water supply needs for future generations.
There are simply not that many wild rivers in the Colorado River Basin. By wild I mean rivers that are not controlled or diverted to other basins – rivers that fill with torrents of raging muddy brown water during spring floods providing nourishment to valleys below – rivers that provide a varied, unique and unparalleled recreational experience.Floating a wild Yampa River through Dinosaur National Monument | Matt Rice
In the Colorado River Basin, there is one river that stands above them all. It is a river that sustains a vibrant agricultural community while providing for world class whitewater boating and trophy trout fishing. Downstream its turbid waters provide life for endangered fish, wildlife, and plants. It is a natural model – a living classroom – a poster child for balance, community heritage, and livability. Despite being the second largest watershed in Colorado, very few people outside of the state know about this river and its importance to the Colorado River Basin, all the way down to Lake Powell.
The wild Yampa River rises in the Flat Top Mountains above Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While it would certainly not be accurate to characterize the Yampa as “undammed” because there are two relatively small storage reservoirs that capture its water in the headwaters, it functions as a wild, free-flowing river. The reservoirs are high in the basin and do not have the storage capacity to capture its powerful spring flows. From Steamboat it meanders through rangeland, past the rural agricultural towns of Hayden, Milner, Craig, and Maybell. Below Maybell, the river flows through the Class V whitewater of Cross Mountain Canyon and into Dinosaur National Monument.Colorado Basin Conservation Director Matt Rice in front of Warm Springs Rapid
Words cannot adequately describe Yampa Canyon through Dinosaur National Monument, nor can pictures capture its grandeur. Experienced boaters claim that a trip through Yampa Canyon in Dinosaur is the best 5-day float trip in the world. One travels through geologic formations that date back over a billion years, canyon walls that rise over a thousand vertical feet, ancient pictographs and petroglyphs, and long runs of thrilling whitewater. But the entire time, at least in the back of your mind, your thoughts return to one thing – getting through the daunting Warm Springs rapid.
We recently teamed up with our partners at Friends of the Yampa, American Whitewater, and OARS to support a film created by the talented group of artists at Rig to Flip. The film documents the history of Warm Springs rapid, the unique role the Yampa River played in creating the modern river conservation movement, and the importance of keeping the Yampa wild and free.
The full length film is available here.
We need rivers like the Yampa – to remind us how rivers are supposed to function, to demonstrate that it is possible to sustain vibrant agriculture while conserving endangered fish and recreation, and to help us improve the management of other rivers in the Colorado Basin. Unfortunately, because of its abundant water, increased demand, and diminishing supplies in the Colorado River basin due to climate change, the Yampa River will continue to be a target for diversion. This is why American Rivers is actively working with partners across the basin to find solutions that will safeguard the Yampa for generations to come. We will always stand up for the wild Yampa River.OARS owner George Wendt on the movie set at Warm Springs Rapid | Matt Rice