Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

Sarah finds herself easily distracted by the beauty of the river as she runs the San Miguel trail

Outside my back door is a locals’ trail that drops down across a small creek, and then weaves through raspberry patches and aspen stands to the edge of the Keystone Gorge. The trail drops abruptly down to the San Miguel River, crosses a creaky footbridge and curls up the steep north side to complete a three mile loop. While I love to trail run, I find it hard to take too seriously as I’m easily distracted by nature and the ever evolving San Miguel River riparian zone. My husband likes to time our runs but will patiently (and frequently) pause…


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

Sarah and friends spend a sunny day rafting on the scenic San Juan River

I feel incredibly fortunate to live here in the desert Southwest, which is home to many beautiful red rock rivers. The San Juan River, in our backyard in the Four Corners region, is a hidden gem. I am so thankful to call the San Juan one of my ‘home’ rivers.

I’ve done everything from personal bike-rafting trips with girlfriends, to quiet fall trips to enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage, to shop trips with our employees here at Alpacka Raft to work on invasive species removal. …


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

The Desolation-Gray Canyon River, featuring it’s scenic landscape and bright flora and fauna

Utah is blessed to have some of the most diverse, spectacular and iconic natural landscapes in America. One of my favorite ways to explore these landscapes is on the water.

A few years ago, I spent several nights with my family and close friends on the Green River, deep in the Desolation-Gray Canyons, and we had an amazing time. This wild river cuts through the remote and rugged red rock of central Utah and remains one of the largest unprotected areas in the Colorado Plateau. Deso-Gray looks pretty much the same as it did when J.W. …


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

Jo-Ellen visits Folsom Dam near Sacramento in 2011. Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Jo-Ellen Darcy has worked in the world of water for 25 years, as Senate staff on the Environment and Public Works Committee and then as the civilian head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the Obama administration. She was also the Executive Director of the Great Lakes and Water Resources Planning Commission in Michigan.

We sat down with Jo-Ellen, now a member of American Rivers’ Board of Directors, to get her take on how far the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has come, how the Biden administration is doing, and where the biggest opportunities lie for American Rivers.

How have you seen the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers progress toward working with nature instead of against it?


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

Amy Martin stands among remarkable beauty, with her most amazing creation — her baby daughter Sunny

If we are fortunate in this lifetime, we might find a singular place that fills our cup time after time. These are the places that, if we surrender to experiencing them wholly, keep us curious, keep us dreaming and reflexively draw us back.

My story with the Grand Canyon began before my memory can recall. It began in the belly of my six-month pregnant mother who hiked me down to the banks of the Colorado River near Phantom Ranch, where my uncle worked as a backcountry ranger and river guide. …


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

Gabe Vasquez on the banks of the Gila River near Cliff, NM | Photo courtesy of Gabe Vasquez

What’s your Gila River story?


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

Colleen Cooley on the San Juan River, UT | Photo by Spruce Tone Films/Taylor Graham

Colleen, thanks so much for taking the time to talk today. Can you introduce yourself to our audience?

When I introduce myself in my language, that’s who I am. I represent myself, my family, and my four clans. That’s where I come from. And, truly, that is all that matters. My name is Colleen Cooley. I am Diné. We all have our own different perspectives and upbringings and I can only speak from my experiences and teachings that have been passed down to me from my elders, from my parents, and from our ancestors.

Can you tell us a little…


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

John Banks | Photo by John Banks

For Indigenous Peoples who have lived on and cared for their lands and waters for thousands of years, rivers are a source of identity, life and community. Here, John Banks, a member of the Penobscot Nation in Maine and the tribe’s director of natural resources, speaks with us about his deep connections to the river and the Penobscot Nation’s game-changing leadership in rethinking dams.

What does the river mean to the Penobscot Nation?

Our original reservation is a large portion of the Penobscot River. We are very much a riverine-based tribe, and our reservation is over 200 islands in the…


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

Phil Rigdon | Photo by Steven Gnam

Many present-day river names are mispronunciations of indigenous names passed down over hundreds — sometimes thousands — of years. A history of colonization and centuries of systemic marginalization, however, have damaged river landscapes essential for the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. Today, tribes across the country are leading efforts to remove dams, restore rivers and preserve cultures and economies that rely on healthy river systems. Their efforts are proof that in order to truly conserve our rivers, all voices must be part of the conversation.

Phil Rigdon is a tribal member and director of natural resources for the Yakama Nation…


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

Caleb Hickman | Photo by G. Peeples USFWS

Anyone who cares deeply about rivers has much to learn from the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples. Today, tribes across the country are using their sovereignty, knowledge and expertise to work for a future in which local communities and sacred river ecosystems can thrive. The rest of us should listen closely.

We spoke with Caleb Hickman, tribal member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and fisheries and wildlife biologist for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina.

What does the river mean to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians?

There are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes and the Eastern Band…

American Rivers

Stories about protecting and restoring our nation’s rivers and streams. How will you get involved?

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