To highlight the work of this incredible organization, Osprey was fortunate to speak with Amy Souers Kober to learn more about the history, focus and mission of American Rivers.
Hello! Can you introduce yourself, and tell us what your role is at American Rivers?
Amy Souers Kober, Vice President for Communications at American Rivers. I love my job and our amazing team – we work every day to motivate people to take action for clean water and healthy rivers.
I’m the mom of two boys. I love running, chocolate chip cookies, good books and swimming in cold rivers. I live in Oregon’s Willamette River watershed on the lands of the Cowlitz, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and Clackamas people.
Can you share more about the mission and focus of American Rivers?
At American Rivers, we believe a future of clean water and healthy rivers everywhere, for everyone, is essential. Our mission is to protect healthy rivers, restore damaged rivers and conserve clean water for people and nature. We combine national advocacy and on-the-ground projects to have the biggest possible impact for rivers and people.
What are a few reasons that rivers are important for the health of our environment, and even us as humans?
To put it simply, life needs rivers. They run through our lives in so many important and beautiful ways. Rivers supply most of our drinking water, so they are vital to our health. They are the lifeblood of ecosystems, supporting fish, birds and wildlife. Rivers are where we go to fish, hike, paddle, explore, and reconnect with the natural world, each other and ourselves.
When rivers are dammed, polluted, diverted and degraded, their ability to support life diminishes significantly. We need to protect rivers that are still healthy, and we need to restore rivers that have been harmed so that rivers can continue to support the natural world, and all of us.
Our work is urgently important, as we feel the impacts of climate change on our rivers, water supplies and communities – with Black, Latino, Indigenous and communities of color disproportionately threatened. Increasing drought, floods and fires make equitable solutions for healthy rivers and watersheds even more critical to our health, safety and well-being now and into the future.
What are some current projects and priorities you and your team are working on?
Wild and Scenic River protection:
American Rivers is working with local partners to advance protections for more than 6,700 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers nationwide. A Wild and Scenic designation is a powerful thing – it prevents new dams, pollution and other impacts that would harm a healthy river’s unique values. Federal legislation has been introduced that would forever safeguard rivers including New Mexico’s Gila, Montana’s Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone, Washington’s Elwha, Hoh and Queets, Oregon’s McKenzie, Deschutes, Grande Ronde, and Nestucca, and more. We’re pushing to get this legislation signed into law, so that Wild and Scenic protections for these rivers – and all the benefits they provide for clean water, fish and wildlife, and communities – become a reality.
Removing dams to restore rivers:
Salmon in the Pacific Northwest’s Snake River, the largest tributary to the Columbia River, are facing extinction. Four dams on the lower Snake are impeding the migration of salmon and creating an “extinction vortex” according to biologists from the Nez Perce Tribe. Scientists say removing these four dams must be part of any credible salmon recovery strategy. It’s why we’re supporting calls from Native American tribes across the region to remove the dams, and why we named the Snake America’s Most Endangered River in 2021. We need urgent action from Congress and the Biden administration to remove the dams and invest in clean energy, transportation and irrigation to replace the dams’ services.
This is just one example of where American Rivers is working to restore healthy, free-flowing rivers. American Rivers has been influential in taking down 95 percent of the more than 1,700 dams that have been torn down across the country. We know dam removal works – revitalizing fish and wildlife, reconnecting communities, improving public safety and enhancing recreation.
What are some of the milestones American Rivers has reached?
Over the past year we opened up 325 miles of river habitat to fish and wildlife by removing six dams in New Hampshire, Oregon, North Carolina and elsewhere. And, we protected 280 miles of rivers with benefits for clean water, fish and wildlife, and recreation.
How can people get involved with and/or support your organization?
There are lots of great ways to get involved! You can sign up for alerts and updates to stay informed and engaged. You can become a member and join our community of generous supporters. And you can organize a river cleanup – a great way to give back to your community.
Rumpl x Osprey
Artist, athlete and activist Jeremy Collins has said that “when everything is flowing right and I’m in the zone, [my work] can feel like water carving through granite.” Inspired by the canyons of the Colorado Plateau, his Three Canyons Print is an illustrious ode to the waterways we rely on for drinking water, healthy ecosystems and recreation.
Through our partnership with Rumpl, the makers of technical outdoor blankets, we’re excited to feature Collins’ Three Canyons Print with a limited-edition Daylite® pack and matching Rumpl Blanket. When we started this collaboration, we knew we wanted more out of it than some beautiful gear, which is why Osprey and Rumpl committed to donating a total of $10,000 to American Rivers. We are proud to support a national organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of our wild rivers and waterways.