River Budget 2000 spotlights under-funded river programmes

A US river environment protection group has highlighted programs it says could serve as models of both national and local river restoration and preservation if they were to receive increased federal funding.

American River’s ‘River Budget: National Priorities for Local River Conservation in FY 2000’ focuses on 15 federal programmes that the group says play a critical role in the health of the nation’s rivers.

The goals of the programmes cover a wide range of river restoration and protection efforts, including reversal of channelization impacts, support for agency involvement in the re-licensing of hydropower dams, cleanup of acid-mine damaged streams, acquisition of ecologically important land from willing sellers, assistance to landowners in controlling polluted runoff, and river habitat restoration.

“Rivers are one of the nation’s most universal public resources, critical to drinking water, agriculture, transportation, recreation, and human and environmental health,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “Our leaders have a responsibility to protect these natural and national treasures.”

The organisation says that funding increases for the programs would be offset by the benefits of reducing the environmental impacts of current and future activities and of protecting both human and ecological health.

Programs highlighted in the River Budget 2000 include:

– Environmental Quality Incentives Program – a conservation program which helps farmers and ranchers facing threats to natural resources to develop successful conservation practices.

– Columbia River Fish Mitigation. Scientific analysis shows that dam removal is the only way to save the Columbia’s fishstocks from extinction.

– Environmental Management Program – the primary habitat restoration and monitoring program on the Upper Mississippi River.

– Environmental Restoration – the Army Corps of Engineers’ programme to restore river systems degraded by existing Corps projects.

– Hydropower Program, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC needs adequate funding and staff to conduct a thorough review of dams’ environmental impacts.

– Missouri River Restoration.

– Land and Water Conservation Fund.

– Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. This program provides citizens, communities, and states with technical advice and counsel on how to protect rivers and streams.

– Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. Section 319 of the Clean Water Act provides assistance to landowners trying to address land use issues that contribute to polluted runoff.

For a copy of the ‘River Budget: National Priorities for Local River Conservation in FY 2000,’ see American Rivers’ web site

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