Colorado Riverkeeper founded

Inaugural patrols are now underway

provided by Living Rivers

he international Waterkeeper Alliance of New York and Living Rivers of Arizona and Utah, last month announced the establishment of Colorado Riverkeeper, the first on-the-water advocacy and restoration program for the Colorado River watershed.

    With rafts, canoes and kayaks, Colorado Riverkeeper will be patrolling the watershed to better document the growing violations of federal environmental laws caused by dams, diversions and excessive water consumption, and use these findings to support litigation strategies to have these laws enforced.

    Colorado Riverkeeper will also be mobilizing the basin's extensive commercial and private river-running community to take part in advocacy programs to ensure enforcement of environmental laws and to return the natural ecological viability to the Colorado River watershed.

    “We're delighted to have joined forces with Living Rivers to advance this rapidly growing model of river advocacy in the watershed that the September National Geographic described as one of the most troubled water sources in the world,” said Robert Kennedy, Jr., president and founder of Waterkeeper Alliance. Since 1999, Waterkeeper Alliance has helped form a network of nearly 100 similar water advocacy programs in the United States and abroad.

    “Waterkeeper's arrival on the Colorado couldn't come at a better time considering the rapidly advancing decline of its unique desert river habitat,” says John Weisheit, who will head up the Colorado Riverkeeper program for Living Rivers. “Their network's incredible track record of on-the-water advocacy and precedent-setting litigation on behalf of rivers and aquatic ecosystems across the country is something we fully plan to continue here on what has become the most developed river system in the country.”

    Colorado Riverkeeper's initial priority will be addressing major violations of the Endangered Species Act caused by a system of more than 40 major dams. The Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park, for example, has had its native ecosystem destroyed due to the operations of Glen Canyon Dam. The river corridor's entire food web has been transformed, four of the eight native fish species are now extinct, and otters and muskrats can no longer survive.

    “I first rafted the Grand Canyon nearly forty years ago, and am appalled that the US Bureau of Reclamation and other federal agencies have allowed the ecological integrity of this internationally acclaimed river corridor, and designated World Heritage Site, to be so severely devastated. Just like the return of the Peregrine falcon and California condor to the canyon's skies, it's now time to ensure the recovery of endangered species to the Canyon's river,” adds Kennedy.

    Living Rivers, Waterkeeper Alliance,