The San Juan River Restoration Project is in the national spotlight. Today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced it is one of 51 river restoration efforts in the United States that will serve as a model of the America’s Great Outdoors River Initiative. America’s Great Outdoors launched two years ago to improve outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, support jobs in recreation and tourism economy, and enhance the quality of life in our communities.
“We’d like to thank Secretary Salazar for acknowledging the importance of restoring the San Juan River and for contributing to its success,” said Terry Sullivan, the Conservancy’s state director in New Mexico.
The San Juan River, a major waterway in the Colorado River Basin, is home to the endangered Colorado Pikeminnow and Razorback Sucker. The San Juan Recovery Program is working to recover endangered species on over 300 water projects in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Diverse partners across several boundaries worked tirelessly to restore and manage stream flows to help the fish recover. The effort also involves restoring native vegetation and building secondary channels and backwaters that provide much-needed nursery and spawning habitat for native fish.
“A few years ago the native fish had virtually disappeared,” remarked Sullivan. “This powerful partnership among water-users, towns, tribes, farmers, conservationists and federal agencies, has brought them back! If we can continue on this restoration and recovery trajectory, we hope that in a few years, these rare fish will be out of danger.”
Fish aren’t the only ones benefitting from this project. A healthier river also has a positive impact on people. “This project shows how we can work on the ground to make changes to bring back the fish and birds and open up the river to people for recreation, which brings money to the area, added Sullivan. “These restoration projects provide jobs for local communities – a healthy river and a healthy economy go hand in hand.”
The Nature Conservancy is a partner in many of the river restoration projects named by Salazar. What we learn from these projects will be shared with other communities who wish to reap the benefits of a healthy, resilient river.
To learn more about the important work The Nature Conservancy is doing to protect important land and water in New Mexico, visit www.nature.org/NewMexico.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico