In the American West, water is life—for people, and for nature. Birds tell us there are essential freshwater-dependent habitats throughout the West—these include the rivers of the Colorado River Basin; Great Salt Lake, Salton Sea, and dozens of other saline lakes; the Rio Grande; as well as tributaries, wetlands, and groundwater connections to essential waterways. But climate change is intensifying droughts, jeopardizing urban and rural community viability and eroding habitat health. The West’s declining water supplies threaten to exacerbate problems created through inequitable access to water—for both the environment and tribal communities—resulting from a legal framework designed more than 100 years ago.
Audubon’s Western Water team, with dedicated staff in key western states and Washington D.C., works to align bird habitat protection and restoration with more reliable water supplies for all communities, while addressing historic injustices. These include disproportionate health impacts associated with water issues at the Salton Sea in California, desiccation of the Colorado River Delta ecosystem in Mexico, and lack of water infrastructure and access to drinking water in many tribal communities. With drought conditions persisting into a third decade and climate change increasingly affecting water supplies and habitat in the West, we see unprecedented urgency for inclusive and equitable solutions that avoid catastrophic water shortages. Audubon advocates for policies, funding, and on-the-ground actions to protect and restore healthy rivers and lakes, for every living thing that depends on them.
Audubon envisions a livable and equitable future in the West. We strive for resilient rivers, wetlands, and lakes that sustain water reliability, and can support birds and people.
Our Western Water Staff
Birds That Depend on Water Resources in the Arid West
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