Audubon View

Photograph by Michael P. Berman, from GILA, Museum of New Mexico Press

Audubon View

Audubon launches a new effort to save the Southwest's rivers.

By David Yarnold
Published: 05/07/2013

At Audubon, conservation is at the heart of everything we do. This is more than a guiding principle; it's what motivates our 420,000 members, 465 chapters, and 22 state offices to work so hard for birds and the natural world, and inspires the extraordinary power of the Audubon network. 

That power was behind our successful campaign to save 11 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. It showed in our leading role in wind-siting efforts that balance conservation and America's energy needs. And it drove one of our greatest conservation victories ever: passage of the RESTORE Act, which ensures that the bulk of BP's penalties for the 2010 oil spill will be used to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

Audubon View. W2 insert
Audubon president and CEO David Yarnold

Now that same spirit is at the forefront of a new battle to help protect our western rivers for the benefit of both nature and people. In Colorado and New Mexico and Arizona, Audubon is fighting to protect rivers that sustain natural communities and connect human ones, forming the foundation of the region's economy.   

But the health of these rivers and the livelihoods of the people and the wildlife that depend on them are in jeopardy. Drought, invasive species, and unsustainable water management are literally draining southwestern rivers dry. Many of the birds that need these rivers, including the western yellow-billed cuckoo and the Bell's vireo, are in decline, and the future of the communities and economies that rely on the rivers is uncertain.

That's why we're launching the Western Rivers Action Network, which will activate the Audubon network to push for increasing river flows, restoring valuable wetlands and forests, and enhancing overall environmental quality.

We've hit the ground running. Audubon supporters organized to oppose legislation in Colorado that would hoard spring runoff instead of using it to increase beneficial flows in the Colorado River. In New Mexico, Audubon helped defeat a proposed pipeline that would have diverted water from the free-flowing Gila River (above), harming riparian habitat crucial to a range of wildlife. And in Arizona, Audubon was instrumental in protecting priority bird habitat and conservation areas along the San Pedro and Verde rivers.

Join Audubon's Western Rivers Action Network as we rise to this historic challenge to create healthier western rivers for birds, wildlife, and people. We can turn our passion into action and make sure the people and birds that depend on our western rivers thrive and prosper. To find out more, go to audubonaction.org/westernrivers.

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Author Profile

David Yarnold

David Yarnold is the president and CEO of the National Audubon Society.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine