Congressman Polis Acts to Save Rivers

March 12, 2014

Contact: Matt Rice, American Rivers, 303-454-3395 or 803-422-5344 (cell)

Gary Wockner, Save the Colorado, 970-218-8310

Washington – Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) took a bold step today to protect rivers in Colorado and across the nation by removing his support for H.R. 3189, the so-called “Water Rights Protection Act.” The House of Representatives will vote on the bill on Thursday.

The bill, which is being pushed by the National Ski Areas Association, Aspen’s SkiCo, as well as the Farm Bureau and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, would have sweeping impacts on rivers in the West and nationwide — preventing federal agencies from doing their job to safeguard rivers, fish and wildlife.

“We applaud Congressman Polis for having the courage to stand up and do what is right,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers. “Jared Polis is a true champion for healthy rivers, and for everybody who fishes, boats, and enjoys the outdoors. His leadership sets a great example and we hope his colleagues in the House follow him in opposing this harmful bill.”

"Rep. Polis' district is in the headwaters of the Colorado River, and his action today removing his support from this bill will help protect this great river," said Gary Wockner of the Save The Colorado River Campaign. "The rivers of Colorado and the Southwest U.S. are already under extreme threat and stress. Rep. Polis is taking the right position in opposing this bill that would further imperil our rivers."

H.R. 3189 essentially allows private water users dry up rivers with impunity and would impact a wide variety of river restoration efforts nationwide. The bill could stop the Fish and Wildlife Service from requiring flows that help salmon find fish ladders so that they can safely pass over dams. It could prohibit the Forest Service from requiring water diverters to leave some water in streams on National Forests to keep native cutthroat trout alive. It would potentially destroy broadly supported multi-year and multi-million dollar settlement agreements — such as the ones on the Klamath and San Joaquin rivers — to restore salmon and steelhead fisheries at hydropower facilities, and would even set back efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

More than 80 local, state and national environmental, recreation, and sportsmen’s groups have written letters in opposition to H.R. 3189 and tens of thousands of individual Americans have taken action, urging their Members of Congress to oppose the bill.

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.

Amy Kober

Senior Communications Director

American Rivers

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