The National Wildlife Federation

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Down the Drain: The Destruction of Waters and Wildlife in the Southwest

  • Julie M. Sibbing
  • Nov 09, 2004

The Southwestern United States is known for its arid landscape – made ever drier in recent years due to an extended drought in most parts of the region. Yet scattered across the dry expanses of desert, scrub, grasslands and mountains of the southwest are wetlands, streams, lakes, ponds, desert springs and rivers that teem with life and serve as the lifeblood of human and wildlife populations of the region. These critical water resources recharge groundwater supplies for a rapidly-growing human population and a highly irrigation-dependent agricultural industry as well as supporting a thriving wildlife-related recreational industry. Yet instead of carefully guarding these valuable resources on which so much of life in the Southwest depends, a directive issued by the administration in January 2003 effectively opened many to unlimited pollution and destruction. A steady march of destruction and degradation has already begun to chip away at the region’s scarce water resources. At stake is the very future of the Southwest – both its human and wildlife populations. This report attempts to assess the growing damage, especially as it relates to wildlife and wildlife-dependent recreation in the region.

Down the Drain

A steady march of destruction and degradation has already begun to chip away at the Southwest’s scarce water resources. This report attempts to assess the growing damage, especially as it relates to wildlife and wildlife-dependent recreation in the region.

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