Tim Palmer, Courtesy American Rivers
Rainie Falls on the Rogue River in Oregon. These rivers may look pristine, but they are in peril, according to the conservation group American Rivers, which released a list of 10 most endangered rivers on Turtle Island.

Flowing Through Indian Country: 5 More Endangered Rivers


Editor’s note: While the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is the most endangered river on Turtle Island according to the conservation group American Rivers, there are nine more besides it. Last week we brought you the top five; here is the rest of the list of 10 rivers under the most threat.

RELATED: 5 Most Endangered Rivers of Turtle Island: Many Flow Through Indian Country

Chuitna River, Alaska

The Chuitna, or Chuit, River traverses 25 miles from the Tordrillo Mountains west of Anchorage to Cook Inlet, paralleling for part of its journey the Pan Am Highway and passing a number of Native communities along the way. American Rivers points to a strip-mining coal operation proposed by PacRim Coal as its reason for listing the Chuitna River on its top 10 endangered list for the year.

“The Chuitna River supports Alaskan Native communities, wild salmon, abundant wildlife including moose, bear, and wolf, and excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other recreation,” said American Rivers in calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny a mining permit for the project. “PacRim Coal’s proposal to develop what would be Alaska’s largest open-pit coal strip mine at the Chuitna River’s headwaters poses an unacceptable threat to the economy and communities that rely on clean water and healthy salmon runs.”

PacRim Coal is an Anchorage-based company under the Petro-Hunt Group of Dallas that holds the rights for the mining area. PacRim maintains that its Chuitna Coal Project will develop resources, boost local economies, and support mental health and land trust programs throughout Alaska. The company argues that the Chuitna River is not directly within the proposed eight-mile square proposed strip mine, but acknowledges that a tributary, Middle Creek, runs through the middle of the project. Among owners of lands within the proposed mine area are the Tyonek Native Corporation, the Cook Inlet Regional Corporation and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The land itself would be leased under the Alaska Mental Health Land Trust.

Local residents are divided on the project, some supporting the economic benefits and others fearing the environmental consequences.


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