Save Water for People, Birds, and Wildlife

Bird habitats along Western rivers, wetlands, and lakes are in trouble. Rivers are drying out and birds are losing the places they need to survive. Dams, diversions, demands for water, and multi-year drought have devastated cottonwood-willow forests and other native river habitat. Birds like the Sandhill Crane forage and live in wetlands and the shallow waters along rivers, as well as nearby agricultural fields, but habitat loss in the West threatens this magnificent bird.

The good news is that there are solutions that can sustain healthy rivers and lakes, while supporting economic growth and a vibrant agricultural economy. For example, the Bureau of Reclamation’s landmark System Conservation Pilot Program will save an estimated 100,000 acre-feet in water through incentives to farmers for innovative agriculture irrigation systems and other projects—the amount of water used by more than 200,000 households in a year.

Please ask your members of Congress to support vital water conservation programs for the birds and communities of the West.
Dear Senator/Representative:

I urge you to provide strong funding for programs in FY18 that save water to help our farmers and ranchers and restore ecosystems for people, birds, and other wildlife in the West.

In the arid West, every drop of water counts. In places like the Colorado River Basin and across the saline (salt) lakes of the Intermountain West, sixteen years of drought have stressed all who depend on rivers and their flow of water, threatening the sustainability of rural agriculture, decreasing the resilience of western cities, and diminishing wildlife habitat. At risk are values all Americans hold dear, including the drinking water for tens of millions of people, a Colorado River-based economy with $1 trillion in economic impacts, and an outdoor recreation paradise that supports hundreds of species of birds, fish, and more that depend on healthy river flows.

Many programs run by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service help reduce these risks by addressing drought, encouraging water conservation, and helping farmers and ranchers. I urge you to provide $100 million for Western Drought Relief, including $25 million for the System Conservation Pilot Program; and $30 million for the WaterSMART Grants program to the Bureau of Reclamation. And under the Natural Resources Conservation Service, provide $200 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations; and fully fund the Farm Bill conservation programs and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, to increase efficient water use on farms, while restoring habitat for birds and other wildlife.

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