Rio Grande No Longer

| November 16, 2001

Rio Grande No Longer?, Dan Oko, The Austin Chronicle
Winding its way along the Texas-Mexico border, the lower Rio Grande is an essential source of life and livelihood for humans and animals lining its shores. And as Dan Oko reports in the Austin Chronicle, a network of environmental groups is working to preserve what is fast becoming a highly endangered river. But conservation is no easy task. A decade-long drought has farmers and ranchers calling for more water to be distributed, while commercial fishermen also stake their claim for access to the river, further taxing the area's unique ecosystem. Not only are the development and water shortage problems endangering the environment, but they put at risk one of the area's greatest economic interests -- the need to draw birdwatchers and 'eco-tourists' to the valley. Mix in the Border Patrol, which regularly mows the brush along the river and shines lights on the dense vegetation, and you've got a river in danger. All of these competing interests are being considered by regional planning groups under the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, but environmental activists fear it all may be too little, too late.
--Lila Kitaeff
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