Rio Grande in Big Bend

Rio Grande in Big Bend

information taken from Environmental Defense

The historic and beautiful Rio Grande (called the Rio Bravo in Mexico), the river that forms the boundary between Texas and Mexico, is in trouble. Reeling from almost a decade of severe drought and over-use, the river failed to reach the Gulf of Mexico during much of 2001 and 2002. More recently, water flows dried up through some of the extraordinary Big Bend National Park canyons well known to river rafters — canyons carved over millennia by the Rio Grande.

In the stretch from El Paso, Texas, to Big Bend National Park (known as the Forgotten River), the river channel has been taken over by scrubby thickets of nonnative saltcedar that have sucked up much of the already scarce water, devastating local ranching and agricultural operations.

Despite the many threats to the Rio Grande and its major tributaries, such as the Rio Conchos in northern Mexico, it’s not too late to restore this treasured North American desert lifeline. Environmental Defense is working with partners in both Texas and Mexico to improve river management, promote water conservation (particularly in the irrigation sector), and secure government funding for removing saltcedar and re-creating native riverside habitat in the Forgotten River stretch. Environmental Defense is also a key partner in the Paso del Norte Water Task Force, which is working toward a binational sustainable water plan for the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez/Doña Ana County area.