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Leading the river movement
American Rivers is a national non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring healthy natural rivers and the variety of life they sustain for people, fish, and wildlife.
We deliver innovative solutions to improve river health; raise awareness among decision-makers and the public; serve and mobilize the river conservation movement; and collaborate with our partners to develop the Citizens’ Agenda for Rivers which creates a unified vision for improving river health across the country.
We have a membership of approximately 40,000. Our national office is located in Washington, DC and we operate a regional office in the Northwest with locations in Seattle and Portland. In addition, we have six field offices in California, Connecticut, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.
How we work
Our work is constantly driven by what is best for rivers and for people whose lives they touch. We share a passion for rivers and a deep commitment to restoring and preserving them.
We take a pragmatic, science-based approach to solving problems facing rivers and assure credibility in all our research and communications, achieving professional quality in everything we do.
We maintain integrity in our dealings with everyone inside and outside the organization, and take a supportive and respectful team-based approach to our work.
We work closely with grassroots river and watershed groups across the country because we believe supporting each others' efforts is key to the health of rivers nationwide. Our staff members also collaborate with other conservation groups, sporting and recreation groups, local citizens and businesses, and various federal, state, and tribal agencies to build strong coalitions.
Our priority issues
The conservation work of American Rivers is designed to address some of the most pressing threats and opportunities for people and rivers today.
- America's Most Endangered Rivers
- Clean Water
- Dam Removal
- Hydropower Dam Reform
- Wild Rivers
- Water Scarcity & Instream Flow
- Endangered Species
- The Rivers of Lewis and Clark (Snake River, Columbia River, Missouri River)
- Community Watersheds
- Army Corps Reform
- River Science
- The Rivers of Puget Sound
Additionally, the Citizens’ Agenda for Rivers, a plan for healthy rivers developed by the river movement, addresses the three priorities of water quality, water quantity, and poorly planned development.
Our history and accomplishments
We were founded in 1973 with the specific focus of increasing the number of rivers protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and preventing the construction of large new dams on our last wild rivers. Over the years our mission has broadened substantially to address a wide variety of issues affecting people and rivers.
Here is a sampling of selected accomplishments:
- In support of the campaign to change the operation of six huge dams to restore natural flows to the Missouri River, American Rivers educated more than 1 million people and collected 52,000 public comments by early 2002 in favor of changing the dams' operation.
- American Rivers and our conservation partners successfully advocated for the removal of the 160-year-old Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River in 1999, triggering the resurgence of large numbers of striped bass, salmon, sturgeon, and alewife, revitalizing a local recreational economy, and galvanizing a nationwide movement to remove dams that no longer make sense. Since 1999, 64 dams have been removed nationwide.
- American Rivers has led the fight to protect the Columbia River's endangered salmon and steelhead. With Native American tribes, Washington State and the federal government, we forged the first Habitat Conservation Plan in 1998 that committed dam owners to higher standards to protect fish, and worked for the designation of the Columbia's finest and most scenic remaining spawning grounds, the Hanford Reach, as a National Monument.
- As the founder and leader of the Hydropower Reform Coalition, we have restored flows in thousands of river miles and protected thousands of acres of riverside ecosystems.
- American Rivers helped make history on the Colorado River when, for the first time, operators of the Glen Canyon Dam agreed in 1996 to release millions of gallons of water for the sole purpose of reviving riverside habitat.
- For close to two decades, we have worked with 367 local, state, and regional conservation groups to list America's Most Endangered Rivers, spotlighting the threats to their rivers in local and national media.