RALLY TO SAVE THE ANIMAS RIVER, DURANGO, NOVEMBER 9

Posted: 11/09/2001
by John Gangemi

THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO PARTICIPATE

Congress approves A-LP appropriation; Demands grow to shut the project down

Grassroots coalition to march on Bureau of Reclamation headquarters
against controversial Animas-La Plata water project

More than 35 organizations and businesses are seeking:
- An indefinite construction halt, to protect ancient Native American
cemetery;
- A GAO investigation of violations of federal rules; and
- Congressional de-authorization of the A-LP dam and reservoir project

DURANGO, COLORADO -- A coalition of more than 35 native and non-native
organizations and businesses from across the United States will launch a
national campaign Friday, November 9, to de-authorize the Animas-La Plata
(A-LP) project, one of the most controversial and contentious water
development schemes in U.S. history. A-LP includes a dam, reservoir and
pumping system at a site near Durango known as Ridges Basin. A water
pipeline is also included as part of the project infrastructure.

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MARCH BEGINS AT NOON IN ROTARY PARK, 15th ST. @ 2nd AVE.
MARCH DOWN MAIN AVE. TO 9th ST., THEN ONE BLOCK EAST TO
BUREAU OF RECLAMATION HEADQUARTERS, 835 2nd AVE. FOR RALLY
FOLLOWING RALLY, WALK WEST ON 9th TO SCHNEIDER PARK
BY ANIMAS RIVER, FOR MUSIC AND REFRESHMENTS
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Congress approved legislation on Thursday, November 1, to fund A-LP
"pre-construction activities" that would include excavation and removal of a
large number of ancient Native American graves. The Fiscal Year 2002
appropriation, which goes into effect immediately once the bill is signed by
President Bush, would permit the Bureau of Reclamation to begin work at any
time.

Coalition member groups gathering in Durango on Friday for the rally will
demand that all ground-disturbing activities be indefinitely suspended,
pending a full investigation of the project by the General Accounting Office
(GAO). The citizens will also demand repeal of the A-LP authorizing
legislation and a ban on future funding for the project.

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PHOTO OPPORTUNITY:
A LETTER TO EVERY MEMBER OF CONGRESS WILL BE MAILED AT THE SIDEWALK
POSTAL BOX NEAR BUREAU OF RECLAMATION HEADQUARTERS DURING THE RALLY
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"Friday's rally in Durango will be the beginning of the end for the
Animas-La Plata project," said Owen Lammers, executive director of LIVING
RIVERS. "A growing number of people is coming together to put nails in the
A-LP coffin."

November 9 is the date when local water agencies must commit their token
share of project costs. However, no purchasers to date have shown interest
in buying A-LP project water.

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MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT AND REFRESHMENTS WILL BE PROVIDED AT
SCHNEIDER PARK FOLLOWING BUREAU OF RECLAMATION RALLY
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A major concern with the project is the imminent destruction of an ancient
cemetery at the Ridges Basin reservoir site. A large number of graves would
be excavated to make way for the Ridges Basin Dam.

"We must protect the resting places of our ancestors," said Thomas Morris,
Jr., President of the Diné Medicinemen's Association. Morris will be in
Durango on Friday for the rally. He will also perform a traditional Navajo
blessingway ceremony to memorialize the threatened ancestral gravesites in
Ridges Basin.

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INTERVIEWS WITH MR. MORRIS AND OTHER GROUP LEADERS WILL BE
AVAILABLE AT FRIDAY'S RALLY
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Environmental groups are supporting the indigenous peoples' concerns, and
calling for an overhaul of the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the agency
responsible for development of most of the rivers of the West. The A-LP
project's construction is scheduled to begin in the agency's centennial
year, 2002.

The following organizations and businesses have endorsed the event and
campaign:

Aimee's Catering, American Rivers, American Whitewater, Audubon Society of
Greater Denver, Diné Medicinemens Association, Citizens Coal Council,
Citizens Progressive Alliance, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Colorado
Plateau River Guides, Colorado Rivers Alliance, Colorado Whitewater,
Electors Concerned About Animas Water, Escalante Wilderness Project,
Flagstaff Activist Network, Forest Guardians, Four Corners Riversports,
Friends of Arizona Rivers, Friends of the Earth, Glen Canyon Institute,
Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Green Party of Utah, High Country Citizens
Alliance, Living Rivers, Native Forest Network, Oil & Gas Accountability
Project, Old House Bakery, Remarkable Earth Photography, Ridgeline & Open
Space Coalition, San Juan Audubon, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Shared
Blanket Gallery, Sierra Club, Southern Ute Grassroots Organization,
Taxpayers for the Animas River, Tribal Environmental Watch Alliance, Utah
Environmental Congress, Utah Rivers Council, and Wilderness Society.

Check the LIVING RIVERS website, for
additional information.

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RECLAIM THE BUREAU CAMPAIGN
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"We are asking the Bureau to shift away from reclamation toward
restoration," said Mr. Lammers. "The agency has never done the job it was
given by Teddy Roosevelt in 1902, to promote small family farms; instead it
has from the beginning acted as a subsidy for corporate agribusiness and
real estate development. A-LP is one of the worst examples of this long, sad
history."

The coalition is calling for major changes in the way the Reclamation agency
does business, including ending support for corporate farms and requiring
mandatory water conservation measures to be put in place for the first time.
In the Colorado River basin, the coalition wants a full review of the entire
plumbing system--all the dams and diversions--and to take down some of the
dams, including Glen Canyon Dam near Page, Arizona.

"They've had a century to get it right, and they've failed miserably at
their charge," said Mr. Lammers. "The only thing they've really succeeded at
is turning the rivers of the West into an elaborate, expensive network of
pipes, ditches, and canals, and in driving numerous species to the brink of
extinction."

Media Advisory from...
___________________________________________________________

L I V I N G R I V E R S
POB 466 * Moab, UT 84532 * 435-259-1063/fax 259-7612
POB 1589 * Scottsdale, AZ 85252 * 480-990-7839/fax 990-2662
www.livingrivers.net
___________________________________________________________
CONTACT: Owen Lammers, Executive Director, 435-259-1063
John Weisheit, Conservation Director, 435-260-2590 (cell)