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Colorado River in the Grand Canyon Ranked as Most Endangered River in the U.S.


A conservation group has named the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon as the most endangered river in the U.S. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the ranking is based on two large-scale development projects as well as the potential for future uranium mining.

For the third year in a row, American Rivers has listed the Colorado on its annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers list. The group says the most significant threat is the Grand Canyon Escalade project which would include industrial-scale development at the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon. In addition, it would install a gondola that could ferry thousands of people a day to the Colorado River.

The group also says another large development project near the South Rim in Tusayan and possible uranium mining in the area threaten the canyon’s water resources.

Sinjin Eberle is with American Rivers.

“The park should be one of the most protected pieces of real estate on the planet today and these three things are causing a threat to the experience and to the sanctity that is the Grand Canyon National Park,” Eberle says.

In an email statement, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga says mining and development represent a “real and present danger.” He also says the Colorado River’s inclusion at the top of the list could help protect the Grand Canyon for future generations.

Other rivers to make the endangered list are the Columbia in the Pacific Northwest and Tennessee’s Holston River.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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