Rivers and wetlands in the United States provide myriad benefits known as ecosystem services, including climate regulation, clean water, food, recreation, and economic, cultural, and scientific opportunities. But despite these advantages, federal and state authorities have formally protected very few of the 3.5 million miles of U.S. rivers. For instance, less than 0.5% of rivers are preserved as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System.
Additionally, more than 90,000 dams and diversion systems have altered the natural flow of rivers nationwide, degrading water quality, interrupting the distribution of sediments and nutrients, and harming fish populations and the communities that depend on them for their livelihoods or survival.
For more information on Pew’s work with partners across the country to secure river and wetlands protections, see the resources below.