The Orvis Angler's Choice Award
To Benefit American Rivers' Most Endangered Rivers
Our friends at American Rivers have released their annual list of The Ten Most Endangered Rivers in America.
As anglers, we know the importance of protecting and restoring our nation's rivers and streams, which is why Orvis was proud to sponsor this report for the fifth consecutive year. In order to celebrate these rivers and spread awareness of their endangered status, we're asking you to vote for your favorite among the ten.
To make it more fun, we'll be randomly selecting one voter each week for four weeks to win a $50 gift card. At the close of voting on May 13th, we will select one grand prize winner from among the voters who will be awarded a Helios 2 outfit of his or her choice.
Scroll through the descriptions, and then vote for your favorite in the widget below. If you want to learn more about American Rivers, visit their website here, or sign up to receive updates.
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SAN JOAQUIN RIVER
Threat: Outdated water management and excessive diversions
At risk: Recreation economy, water supply, and wildlife habitat
The San Joaquin River and its principal tributaries— the Merced, the Tuolumne, and the Stanislaus— originate on the high slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada, and flow through the fertile San Joaquin Valley south of Sacramento. For millennia, the cool waters of these rivers sustained the southernmost runs of king salmon and vast wetlands that supported millions of waterfowl, herds of tule elk, and even grizzly bear.
UPPER COLORADO RIVER
Threat: Outdated water management and excessive diversions
At Risk: River health and resilient communities
The Colorado River Basin in the State of Colorado includes the mainstem Colorado River and headwater rivers, such as the Eagle, Roaring Fork, Blue, Yampa, Green, and Gunnison. Gold medal trout fisheries, world class paddling, and glorious massive canyons can be found throughout this river system. The resort areas of Winter Park, Breckenridge, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Crested Butte, and Vail, as well as much of the urban Front Range (on the other side of the Continental Divide), all get some or all of their drinking water from these rivers. The Upper Colorado River Basin is home to 14 native fish species, including several fish listed as endangered.
MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky
Threat: Outdated flood management
At Risk: Habitat and public safety
The great Mississippi River once experienced seasonal floods that spread out over its floodplain, creating a mosaic of backwaters, wetlands, and sloughs. These periodic floods were the driving force behind robust and diverse ecosystems that were home to an amazing array of fish, birds, and wildlife. The Missouri “bootheel”, located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, was once one of the nation’s largest and richest wetland areas.
Threat: New water diversions
At Risk: River health, fish & wildlife, recreation, and tourism
A tributary to the Colorado River, the Gila originates in America’s first designated wilderness area, the Gila Wilderness, and is rich in biological diversity and cultural history. The Gila River supports healthy riverside forests, cold water fisheries, and a remarkable abundance of wildlife. The river is critical to the long-term health of these wild ecosystems.
SAN FRANCISQUITO CREEK
Threat: Outdated dam
At Risk: Threatened fish and wildlife habitat and public safety
Fueled by winter rains and year-round springs, the 45 square mile San Francisquito Creek watershed gathers dozens of small tributaries draining the Eastern Slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains through the towns of Portola Valley and Woodside. The San Francisquito mainstem, formed at the confluence of Bear Creek and Corte Madera Creek, flows for 12 miles east through Stanford University, and the cities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto, before meeting the southern portion of San Francisco Bay, the largest estuary on the West Coast.
SOUTH FORK EDISTO RIVER
Threat: Excessive water withdrawals
At Risk: Fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, and water quality
The Edisto River is the longest free-flowing blackwater river in the country. It flows more than 250 miles from its headwaters between Columbia and Aiken to the coast, and is characterized by extensive bottomland forests and broad floodplains. The river is home to endangered shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, as well as American shad and striped bass. Its floodplain habitats harbor the charismatic swallow-tailed kite and numerous other wildlife. The Edisto has four state parks along its course, including Aiken State Park on the South Fork. The ACE basin, formed by the Ashepoo, Cumbahee, and Edisto rivers, is a National Estuarine Research Reserve. More than 130,000 acres of land in the ACE basin have been protected through public/private partnerships.
WHITE RIVER (Colorado)
Threat: Oil and gas drilling
At Risk: Fish and wildlife habitat and drinking water supplies
The two forks of the White River start high up in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area— the second largest wilderness area in Colorado— within the White River National Forest. Originating from the melting snow and ice above Trappers Lake, the North Fork of the White River flows freely through beautiful canyons and countryside to the desert plains of the Uintah Basin. The North Fork joins the South Fork near the small hamlet of Buford as it winds west, passing through a bucolic valley dotted with hay meadows, farmhouses, and abundant wildlife. Roughly 7000 citizens, the majority residing in the towns of Meeker and Rangely, depend on water supplies from the White River. The river provides habitat for imperiled fish and wildlife species, and is home to some of North America’s largest big game herds. The warmer, lower reaches of the White River are also home to four endemic endangered fish species.
WHITE RIVER (Washington)
Threat: Outdated dam and fish passage facilities
At Risk: Salmon, steelhead, and bull trout populations
Originating from the Winthrop, Emmons, and Fryingpan glaciers on Mt. Rainier, the White River travels 68 miles and drains 494 square miles before flowing into the Puyallup River and Puget Sound. The White River is enjoyed by kayakers, fishermen, hikers, and visitors to Mt. Rainier National Park and the surrounding area. The river is home to four species of salmon (Chinook, coho, chum, and pink), as well as steelhead and bull trout. The river’s salmon and steelhead are central to the culture of the Muckleshoot and Puyallup Indian tribes.
Threat: Polluted runoff
At Risk: Clean water and public health
The Haw River flows 110 miles from its headwaters in the north-central Piedmont region of North Carolina to the Cape Fear River just below Jordan Lake Reservoir. The river and its watershed provide drinking water to nearly one million people living in and around the cities of Greensboro, Burlington, Chapel Hill, Cary, and Durham. This 1700 square mile watershed is home to a variety of fish and wildlife, including blue heron, bald eagle, beaver, deer, otter, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bowfin, crappie, carp, and bluegill. The Haw also contains important habitat for the endangered Cape Fear shiner and an assortment of rare freshwater mussel species.
Threat: Industrialization of a wild and scenic river corridor
At Risk: Scenery, solitude, world-class recreational value
Flowing for roughly 100 miles through the Clearwater National Forest, the Middle Fork Clearwater and Lochsa rivers traverse the homeland of the Nez Perce people. In 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed Lolo Pass and followed the Lochsa and Clearwater to the Columbia and on to the Pacific Ocean. Since time immemorial, the rivers provided sustenance and travel routes for the Nez Perce people. The rivers teem with wildlife and are home to several rare and threatened species, including Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and westslope cutthroat trout.
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