Press Release Apr 18, 2012

America's Great Waters Coalition Designates New Waterways to Advocate for Restoration Needs

Coalition adds Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, St. Johns and Hudson Rivers

Washington, D.C. – From the Great Lakes to the Colorado River, from Puget Sound to the Everglades, our Great Waters are the lifeblood of our nation, providing critical jobs, drinking water, and amazing recreational opportunities for millions of people. Today, the America’s Great Waters Coalition adds the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin and the St. Johns River in Florida to its list of Great Waters. In addition, the Coalition is expanding the already recognized New York/New Jersey Harbor to include the Hudson River.

“We are thrilled to welcome two new waterways and expand upon another Great Water to help realize our vision of making restoration a national priority. Our collective health and the health of our public lands and waterways are interconnected,” said Theresa Pierno, co-chair for the America’s Great Waters Coalition and executive vice president for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Damaged waterways erode property values, undermine economic vitality, and threaten our quality of life.”

The nation’s Great Waters are the backbone of America’s heritage and economy, impacting people, businesses, communities, and wildlife. Unfortunately, these waters are under attack. Instead of defending the laws that help keep our water clean, legislation in Congress is attacking these very special places and funding for critical restoration projects are at risk. The Coalition advocates for decision makers to support restoration efforts for America’s waterways that are critical to local economies and way of life for communities nationwide.

“Right now we are seeing a congressional onslaught on the Clean Water Act that is regional in nature, but has implications for the rest of the country,” said Doug Siglin, co-chair for the America’s Great Waters Coalition and federal affairs director at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “By working together, we demonstrate how an attack on one Great Water is an attack on all. Legislation aimed at degrading the Chesapeake Bay can be used in the future to harm other waterways, such as the St. Johns River and ACF River Basin.”

The ACF River Basin and the St. Johns and Hudson Rivers are ecologically and historically rich, and bring new geographic presence and diversity to the Coalition. The ACF River System spans over 19,600 square miles and flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains, through Atlanta, and south to rural landscapes throughout Georgia, Alabama, and Florida before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The St. Johns River is an American Heritage River, recognized for its historical significance and was the site of one of America’s first settlements at Fort Caroline, established 50 years before Jamestown. Finally, the Hudson River is a defining feature of New York state’s natural landscape, provides critical habitat for nationally-significant species, and has contributed significantly to American history, culture and commerce.

“While the Great Waters vary in geographic location and physical characteristics, they are plagued by similar problems such as pollution, altered water flows, habitat loss and destruction, invasive species, climate change, and more,” said Adam Kolton, co-chair for the America’s Great Waters Coalition and senior director of congressional and federal affairs at the National Wildlife Federation. “Federal support for restoration work is essential for protecting these important waterways.”

In addition to today’s designations, America’s Great Waters include Albemarle-Pamlico Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Louisiana, Colorado River, Delaware River Basin, Everglades, Galveston Bay, Great Lakes, Gulf of Maine, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, Mississippi River, Missouri River, Narragansett Bay, Ohio River Basin, Puget Sound, Rio Grande, and San Francisco Bay.

The Coalition consists of more than 70 local, regional, and national organizations that believe that speaking with a united voice and working together will help nationalize Great Waters’ priorities, and will bring more strength to each region’s restoration efforts.

About the Great Waters Coalition: In 2009, water restoration advocacy groups from across the country joined to launch the “America’s Great Waters Coalition,” to help nationalize water issues and to protect, preserve, and restore our nation’s Great Waters. Learn more about the Great Waters Coalition and view a map of America’s Great Waters.

Quotes from regional spokespeople:

Great Water: Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin
Contact: Manley Fuller, President of the Florida Wildlife Federation
Phone: 850-656-7113

“We are so pleased that two of the Southeast’s most significant river systems, the ACF in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and Florida’s St Johns will now be prominently recognized among America’s Great Waters. This will bring increased national attention to these river basins’ incredible natural resources, economic and societal values, and the great challenges facing them today. Together we can work towards solution-oriented conservation and restoration approaches needed to sustain the long-term health of these Great Waters.”

Great Water: St. Johns River
Contact: Mark Middlebrook, Executive Director of the St. Johns River Alliance
Phone: 904-509-0918

“The St. Johns is a national treasure and an important environmental resource. It contains one of the Florida’s largest wetland systems, flows nearly 300 miles and drains 8,800 sq. miles,” said Pat Northey, St. Johns River Alliance Chair and Vice-Chair of the Volusia County Council. “The Great Waters designation recognizes the importance of the river and we are honored to be a part of such an important coalition.”

Great Water: Hudson River
Contact: Andy Bicking, Director of Public Policy and Special Projects of Scenic Hudson, Inc.
Phone: 845-473-4440, x. 232

“The Hudson River has been recognized as the birthplace of the nation’s modern environmental movement since the Supreme Court’s precedent-setting “Scenic Hudson Decision.” The Hudson was also among the first of our country’s waterways designated as an American Heritage River. Today, our communities are collaborating to revitalize urban waterfronts, restore natural habitats, safeguard water quality, protect nationally-significant landscapes and inspire a new generation of environmental leaders. This Great Water’s designation creates new opportunities for federal partnership on the Hudson Estuary. We are excited to explore these opportunities with friends from the New Jersey-New York Harbor area as well as support like-minded organizations across the country in their own efforts.”

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