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For Immediate Release, January 30, 2009

Contact: Edie Dillon, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 277-9155

Watershed Wednesday:
Movie Highlights Renewal, Wild and Scenic River Protection  

PRESCOTT, Ariz.— Watershed Wednesday is a monthly celebration of the significance of water to all aspects of life, from the biological to the aesthetic and from the practical to the inspiring. Watershed Wednesday events generally focus on the Verde River, our local desert jewel, and emphasize key aspects of Verde protection, including the importance of river habitat and the harm to the upper Verde that will result from water being pumped out of the Big Chino aquifer without an adequate, scientifically based habitat conservation and mitigation plan.

The upcoming Watershed Wednesday, on Feb. 5, offers an especially big and hopeful vision: federal “Wild and Scenic” designation of the upper Verde River. Sam Frank, the Arizona Wilderness Coalition’s central Arizona director, will show A River Reborn, an award-winning film that brings to life the natural and human history of Fossil Creek as it examines the ecological effects of a 100-year-old dam and hydroelectric facility, and as it highlights the success of creek restoration and the resilience of nature.

In celebration of the expected imminent Congressional designation of Fossil Creek as a Wild and Scenic River, this Wednesday Frank will unveil the campaign to achieve a Wild and Scenic designation for the upper Verde, a designation that offers broad protections for this beautiful and beleaguered river.

“Wild and Scenic designation of the upper Verde will help protect a continuous corridor of riparian habitat from Stillman Lake to the Horseshoe Reservoir as it would connect to greenways and scenic areas further down the river that are already protected,” said Michelle Harrington, rivers conservation manager for the Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity coordinates Watershed Wednesday events to publicize issues affecting the health of the Verde River, including off-road vehicle damage, pollution from sludge dumping, global warming, and the harm to the upper Verde that will result from unsustainable pumping of water out of the Big Chino Subbasin. Scientists generally agree that the Big Chino supplies more than 80 percent of the base flow for the upper Verde River, which depends almost entirely on that water during the dry seasons.

“The Wild and Scenic plan for the upper Verde is exciting,” Harrington explained, “because providing this lush, green ribbon of river in central Arizona the additional protections it deserves is a proactive and positive step for both wildlife and people, with great benefits for tourism and quality of life in our area.”

For more information about Watershed Wednesday or Verde River issues, call Edie Dillon at (928) 277-9155.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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