From the Great Lakes to the Colorado River, from the Puget Sound to the Everglades, our Great Waters are the lifeblood of our nation, driving regional economies, enhancing our national parks, and shaping the daily lives of Americans. Within NPCA, much work is being done to promote, protect, and restore Great Waters because their health directly relates to the health of our national parks. Below is a snapshot of the work being done by our regional offices.
The Mid-Atlantic Region contains three Great Waters – the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware River, and the Ohio River. The Chesapeake Bay watershed alone is home to over 50 national park units. NPCA serves on the steering committee of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, which brings together people and more than 160 organizations from six states and the District of Columbia, to seek federal leadership to improve water quality in the hundreds of streams and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Office also promotes clean water in New River Gorge National River in West Virginia, a tributary of the Ohio River, by working with partners in the New River Clean Water Alliance to implement strategic priorities to improve water quality.
The Midwest Regional Office spans an area that includes four Great Waters—the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, the Missouri River, and the Ohio River. Restoring the Great Lakes is an integral piece of the Midwest Regional Office’s program. The Great Lakes basin is home to 16 national park units, including Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. NPCA serves as a co-chair of the Great Lakes-Healing Our Waters Coalition, which consists of more than 115 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.
The Northeast Regional Office covers an area that contains all or parts of seven Great Waters – the Gulf of Maine, Lake Champlain, Narragansett Bay, the Great Lakes, Long Island Sound, the New York/New Jersey Harbor, and the Delaware River. Because this is the most populated region of the country and near numerous urban communities, many Americans are able to experience the national parks around these Great Waters. The national parks of the New York/New Jersey Harbor alone collectively protect nearly 27,000 acres of parkland with more than 20 national parks spread around the watershed, such as Gateway National Recreation Area and the Statue of Liberty.
The Northwest Regional Office supports the protection and restoration of Puget Sound for the benefit of the nearby national parks, such as Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Parks. One recent victory is the Elwha River project, the largest dam removal and second-largest National Park Service restoration project in the United States. Removal began in September 2011 on two dams—the Elwha and the Glines Canyon dams—to restore the 70-mile run of the Elwha River, which flows high from Olympic National Park to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The Southeast Regional Office spans an area of the country that includes all or portions of three Great Waters – the Ohio River, the Mississippi River, and Albemarle-Pamlico Sound in North Carolina. NPCA works to protect the Big South Fork River and Recreational Area in Tennessee, a tributary in the Ohio River Basin, from large-scale coal mining in its watershed that could irreversibly damage habitat and water quality downstream. The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound stretches to Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores
The Southwest Regional Office covers 73 national park units, many of which are located in the Colorado River watershed and owe their physical characteristics to the natural processes of the Colorado River, a Great Water. The Colorado River runs through Grand Canyon and Canyonlands National Parks and Glen Canyon and Lake Mead National Recreation Areas, shaping their prominent features that draw millions of visitors each year. NPCA works with partners in the Colorado River watershed to ensure that it is protected and managed in the best way for the benefit of the nearby national parks.
The Sun Coast Regional Office dedicates much time to restoring the Everglades ecosystem and protecting its surrounding four national park units: Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas National Parks and Big Cypress National Preserve. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project is the largest ecosystem restoration project in the world and is designed to improve natural water flow and water quality in the Everglades by removing levees, filling in canals, and reducing agricultural and urban runoff. NPCA has served as a leader for more than a decade of the Everglades Coalition, an alliance of 53 conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to full restoration of the greater Everglades ecosystem.
The Texas Regional Office covers two Great Waters: the Rio Grande and Galveston Bay. The Rio Grande runs through Big Bend National Park and contributes to the park’s wetlands and deep canyons, which are among the park's most striking features. NPCA shares an interest in restoring this Great Water to protect the water resources within Big Bend, the species that live there, and the overall visitor experience.