Given the threats of climate change and legislation, the story of the Santa Cruz River is a bellwether for the entire nation. With local and nationwide support, we intend to bring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here to southern Arizona to establish a Santa Cruz River Urban National Wildlife Refuge. Protecting this river is of nationwide importance.

Dr. Luke Cole, director, Santa Cruz River Program Director

Threat: Water Scarcity

The Santa Cruz River was once a desert oasis that was dried up and polluted for decades – and only recently is it coming back to life. However, climate change and water scarcity threaten progress to ensure clean, flowing water in the river. What’s more, rollbacks to clean water protections at the federal level could add new challenges to the health of the watershed longer term. To ensure this river remains a community treasure, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should establish an Urban National Wildlife Refuge. 

American Rivers appreciates the collaboration and efforts of our partners:
  • Sonoran Institute

“Decisions are being made now that will impact the Grand Canyon and the entire river for decades to come. We must pursue lasting solutions that balance water demands with environmental health and safety, and the protection of this beloved national treasure.” 

Sinjin Eberle, Southwest Region Communication Director

Threat: Climate change and outdated water management

The Colorado River’s Grand Canyon is one of our nation’s, and the world’s, greatest natural treasures. A sacred place of deep cultural significance, it is also a beloved recreation and travel destination, and home to endangered plants and animals. But rising temperatures and severe drought driven by climate change, combined with outdated river management and overallocation of limited water supplies, put this iconic river at serious risk. As it makes critical decisions about water management along the Colorado River, the Bureau of Reclamation must consider the environment a key component of public health and safety and prioritize the ecological health of the Grand Canyon.