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Coosa River named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers for 2010

Hydropower dams threaten cultural icon of the South

Washington, D.C. — Hydropower dams have already caused a mass extinction of wildlife on the Coosa River, and unless dam operations change, the South will lose even more of its priceless natural heritage on the Coosa. This threat landed the Coosa River in the number ten spot in America’s Most Endangered Rivers: 2010 edition, produced by American Rivers. Read the full report

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve dam operations on the Coosa River for people and wildlife,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “If we don’t act now the region will lose a vital piece of its natural heritage.”

American Rivers and its partners called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to meet their responsibility and ensure the new operating license for dam owner Alabama Power includes key protections for the river and its fish and wildlife.

“In one of the most biologically diverse freshwater places in the world - the southeastern United States – the Coosa River stands out as a gem as one of the most biologically diverse rivers.  Protecting this river is important for both aquatic life and human health,” said Judy Takats with World Wildlife Fund.

The Coosa is the most developed river in Alabama, and only some of the river’s 275 miles still flow freely.  Most of the Coosa River is trapped behind seven Alabama Power Company dams. The construction of these dams doomed many of the Coosa’s native fish and wildlife to extinction.  FERC’s relicensing of Alabama Power’s dams is the first opportunity in half a century to improve river conditions for people, fish, and wildlife, ensuring a future for 21 federally listed species in the area.

Each year, American Rivers reviews nominations for the America’s Most Endangered Rivers report from river groups and concerned citizens across the country. Rivers are selected based upon the following criteria:

  • A major decision (that the public can help influence) in the coming year on the proposed action
  • The significance of the threat to human and natural communities
  • The degree to which the proposed action would exacerbate or alleviate stresses caused by climate change

The report is a call to action and emphasizes solutions for the rivers and their communities. By shining the spotlight on key decisions that will impact the rivers, and by providing clear actions the public can take on their behalf, the report is a powerful tool for saving these important rivers.

Learn more:
U.S. Southeast Rivers and StreamsWWF’s work in the region