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NFC: Fw: RiverCurrents: April 26, 2002

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* Bush administration proposes to allow mine dumping

* Mid-Atlantic: Army Corps suspends Delaware project
* Rockies: Interior, EPA clash over Powder River plan
* Northwest: Groups file for "wild only" protections
* Great Lakes: Dam removal could help Cuyahoga River

* Whooping cranes 

* New report on our country's biodiversity

"Reducing Southern Sedimentality"
-- by Sharon Guynup

* We share your ideas here

* Get down with the Loup River Nightcrawlers!

* Protect the natural heritage of the Tennessee River


Bush administration proposes to allow mine dumping

The Charleston Gazette reports today that "Bush administration 
officials have broadened the changes to an important stream-filling 
rule in response to complaints from the mining industry...Among 
other things, the Bush changes would allow the dumping of junk 
cars and refrigerators under U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits."

Click here for the full story:




Army Corps suspends Delaware deepening project following GAO Report

The Army Corps of Engineers suspended a $311 million project to 
deepen the Delaware River in the wake of a report by the General 
Accounting Office (GAO) challenging the project's economic 

The Washington Post (4-23-02) reports that its sources say GAO 
investigators "believe the Corps dramatically overstated the 
project's potential economic benefits to the ports of Philadelphia 
and Camden."

This is the latest in a series of Army Corps projects to be held 
up by questions about the Corps' economic analysis.

As reports the Post, "The agency suspended studies of massive lock 
expansions on the Mississippi River and a deepening of the Chesapeake 
and Delaware Canal after Washington Post articles in 2000 questioned 
their economics. The Corps recently suspended its Columbia River 
deepening in response to an analysis by The Oregonian. And President 
Bush's Office of Management and Budget has challenged the economic 
justification for a Corps flood-control project in Dallas."

There are numerous environmental concerns with the project. And many 
New Jersey and Delaware politicians have criticized the project 
because about 33 million cubic yards of dredge spoil would be dumped 
in their communities. The groups Taxpayers for Common Sense and the 
National Wildlife Federation recently released a report, rating it 
the second-worst Corps project in the nation.

It is not clear whether the project will ever be re-started. Steve 
Ellis with Taxpayers for Common Sense told the Post that the 
suspension of the Delaware project is like putting sour milk back in 
a refrigerator; when it comes out again, he said, it's still going to 
be sour.

American Rivers cited the Army Corps of Engineers as a leading 
threat to our nation's rivers in our 2002 report on the 
Nation's Most Endangered Rivers:

Interior official challenges EPA on drilling in Powder River Basin

A senior Interior Department official is challenging the EPA's 
criticism of an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal 
to drill for gas in the Powder River Basin.

Earlier this month, EPA acting regional administrator Jack McGraw 
gave the worst possible rating to the EIS.

American Rivers named the Powder among the Most Endangered Rivers 
of 2002, based on the threats from drilling on 8 million acres of 
Wyoming ranch land.

As reports the Washington Post (4-25-02), "In a draft letter, McGraw 
said the statement offered no means of coping with increased salinity 
in ground water, which drilling would produce at levels that violate 
federal law; failed to use the same standards of analysis applied to 
a parallel project in neighboring Montana; and ignored air pollution 
that would result from drilling."

But now, an Interior Department official is challenging the EPA's 
highly critical report.

As reports the Post, "Interior Department Deputy Secretary J. Steven 
Griles, told of McGraw's comments, wrote EPA Deputy Administrator 
Linda Fisher on April 12 to say that McGraw's letter =91will create, 
at best, misimpressions and possibly impede the ability to move 
forward in a constructive manner.'"

According to the Post, Griles once ran a consulting firm whose 
clients include oil and gas companies that are drilling in the 
Powder River Basin.

If the proposal is approved it would be the nation's largest domestic 
energy exploration project.

The Bush Administration backs the drilling of more than 39,000 wells 
in the Powder River Basin, especially since the Senate defeated oil 
and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Click here for American Rivers' Most Endangered Rivers report 
on the Powder River:


Conservation groups file to exclude hatchery fish from 15 ESA listings

With Endangered Species Act protections of hatchery and wild 
fish called into question by a controversial court opinion 
last fall, groups this week filed for wild-only listings for 
15 salmon and steelhead stocks.

A group of 17 national, regional and local conservation groups filed 
petitions with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 
for Endangered Species Act protection of only the wild fish among 15 
West Coast salmon and steelhead stocks.

The move serves as the latest salvo in the widening national debate 
over ESA protection of hatchery-born and naturally reproducing fish. 

Click here for the full story:

This story was brought to our attention by RiverCurrents reader D. 
Shall, who writes, "Although I now live in Los Angeles, I grew up 
in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and have many fond memories of exploring 
the Cuyahoga River Gorge. It is an absolutely spectacular spot on 
the River, and the dam removal being proposed by the Ohio EPA would 
reestablish one of the most stunning urban gorges in the Eastern US." 

Dam removal could help the Cuyahoga

Ninety years ago, Big Falls disappeared. These waterfalls on the 
Cuyahoga River were drowned when Gorge Dam was built in 1912 to 
generate electricity for the Akron, Ohio area.

But now, as reports the Plain Dealer (4-23-02), "there's hope that 
Big Falls will reappear - and that Gorge Dam will disappear."

As reports the Plain Dealer, the Ohio Environmental Protection 
Agency wants to remove a handful of dams to improve water quality. 
Removing the dams that no longer make sense will get the stagnated 
water flowing freely again and will open up migration corridors for 

Paddlers are also excited about the recreation opportunities the 
dam removals will bring. According to the Plain Dealer, some of the 
river's best rapids are above and below Gorge Dam.

"If that dam were to be removed, it would open up a beautiful rapid 
for kayakers," Matt Muir, who often kayaks the gorge part of the 
river, told the newspaper.

But there are still concerns to be addressed. For example, removing 
the dam could allow invasive species, such as zebra mussels, from 
Lake Eerie to spread into areas where they do not currently exist.

Still, Muir, a member of the Keelhaulers Canoe Club, a paddling 
organization in Northeast Ohio, told the newspaper, "I would 
consider it a tremendous benefit [if the dams were removed]."

Learn more about removing dams that don't make sense:



"Reducing Southern Sedimentality"
-- by Sharon Guynup

Sharon Guynup, a freelance science and environmental writer whose 
work has appeared in Wildlife Conservation, Audubon, Popular Science 
and Sierra, traces the path of Southern sediment pollution from its 
causes to its effects, explaining along the way how citizens can 
better protect their freshwater ecosystems.




Feature wildlife: the whooping crane

It was their first solo migratory journey, and they made it back 
home just fine. Researchers say five endangered whooping cranes 
recently found their way from Florida back to central Wisconsin.

The young cranes left their fledgling grounds in Wisconsin's Necedah 
National Wildlife Refuge last fall, following an ultralight aircraft 
to winter grounds in Florida's Chassahowitzka National Wildlife 

As reports the Associated Press (4-19-02), the birds' instincts took 
over on the return trip. The 1,175-mile journey took the cranes 10-
The cranes averaged about 200 miles a day.

Learn more about these extraordinary birds, get a map of their 
migration route and watch a video clip:



The new report, "States of the Union - ranking America's biodiversity"
offers new information on state patterns of biological wealth and 
risk-- where our wild plants and animals are found, and how they are 

For example: for fishes, Alabama has the greatest diversity but 
Arizona has the most at risk. 

Get the full report here:




Each week, we share conservation tips and ideas emailed to 
us by RiverCurrents readers. 

From reader E. Newsom:
I just read the article on using gray water and
thought I'd share what I've done for a while.  It
seems obvious but I don't know anyone else who does
it.  I keep a couple buckets in the bathroom and when
I'm waiting for the shower to warm up I run the water
into the buckets instead of the drain.  With two of us
doing it, it provides about half the water our
vegetable garden needs.

Share your own ideas with the RiverCurrents community!

If you have water and/or energy conservation ideas of your own, 
please email them to asouers at amrivers_org and we'll post them here.



Feature CD: "Loup River Saturday Night" by John Walker 
and the Loup River Nightcrawlers

Several of the musicians and songwriters on this CD are 
"avid river rats" and the inspiration for the CD came 
around a campfire one night during a canoe trip on central 
Nebraska's Loup River. One of the songwriters was named 
the Nebraska State Poet in 1982.

For information about this and other great river tunes:


TAKE ACTION (Please act now-- Deadline is today!)

Protect the rich natural heritage of the Tennessee River

Please help protect the Tennessee River, one of the
most diverse freshwater systems in the world.  Home to 
colorful darters, endangered mussels, elegant paddlefish, 
and huge sturgeon, the more than 600-mile-long Tennessee 
River is also subject to enormous pressures from increased 
human population.

Tell the Tennessee Valley Authority to protect the ecosystem's health!




RiverCurrents is a weekly summary of river news and information as 
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inclusion of a story or point of view in RiverCurrents does not 
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