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Action Alert: Rally to Keep the Gila River Flowing

Please join Audubon New Mexico and a coalition of conservation leaders, activists, and community members at the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping meeting on July 2nd in Albuquerque to rally in opposition to this financially and environmentally disastrous water diversion on the Gila River.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Photo: Dan Pancomo / Creative Commons
Get Involved

Action Alert: Rally to Keep the Gila River Flowing

Please join Audubon New Mexico and a coalition of conservation leaders, activists, and community members at the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping meeting on July 2nd in Albuquerque to rally in opposition to this financially and environmentally disastrous water diversion on the Gila River.

The New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity (NM CAPE) is proposing to divert the Gila and San Francisco Rivers through a series of dams, pipelines, and storage structures negatively impacting birds, wildlife, and ignoring the needs of nearby communities. Please join Audubon New Mexico and a coalition of conservation leaders, activists, and community members at the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping meeting on July 2nd in Albuquerque to rally in opposition to this financially and environmentally disastrous water diversion on the Gila River.

If you can’t make it, there will be five additional opportunities this July to speak up for the river at NEPA scoping meetings held in Silver City, Cliff-Gila, Glenwood, and Virden (Read through for more detail). You may also submit comments online by July 20th using this webform: https://www.nmuniteis.com/submitting-your-comments/

Audubon New Mexico knows that manipulating flows on the Gila, one of New Mexico’s last free flowing rivers, threatens our states climate resiliency, disrupts and displaces many of the 200 bird species that rely on the river’s multi-aged riparian forest, and misses an opportunity for water conservation alternatives that can ensure a better water future for birds, wildlife, and people.

The Gila River is home to seven threatened or endangered species and serves as critical refuge for priority birds like the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and the Yellow- billed Cuckoo. No small deed in the arid west. Maintaining flow variability – a defining feature of the Gila River – and supporting Audubon New Mexico and Western Resource Advocates’ Deming Water Alternative Report is a better option.

Audubon believes where birds thrive, people prosper. We encourage you to use your grassroots power and be heard on July 2nd. Participants will have an opportunity to submit public comment at the NEPA scoping meeting after rallying in support of a flowing Gila River.

EVENT DETAIL: Monday, July 2nd at 5PM – 7PM, State Bar of New Mexico, 5121 Masthead St. NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109. Wear green.

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THE ISSUE

 The public comment period is open under NEPA where concerned advocates for a flowing Gila River may submit remarks to be considered during the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the New Mexico Unit (NM Unit) of the Central Arizona Project (CAP), also referred to as the Gila River diversion project. 

This process has been activated through NEPA because NM CAPE is proposing a new use of water on the Gila for agriculture and future storage. Approval of this proposal authorizes the construction of diversion structures on the Gila River and on the San Francisco River to provide water for new storage ponds for 400 acre-feet (AF) in the Cliff-Gila Valley, 500 AF in the Virden Valley, and 1,900 AF near Alma.

OUR MESSAGE

After a decade of meetings and $15 million spent on planning, the NM CAP Entity is proposing a poorly defined project that harms birds and does not serve nearby communities. Audubon New Mexico wants to keep the Gila flowing and our message opposing the diversion is loud and clear:  

Proposing alternatives is at the heart of the NEPA process, and we have a good one.  The technical report title An Affordable & Secure Future Water Supply for the City of Deming, prepared by Western Resource Advocates and Audubon New Mexico describes water conservation and efficiency improvements that would be the cheapest, fastest, and best water supply strategy to meet the needs of the largest municipality in the region.

By disrupting the natural flow of the Gila, birds like the federally endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and the federally threatened Yellow-billed Cuckoo are at risk. Birds thrive where native vegetation and perennial surface water are present. When water becomes scarce, the value of riparian habitats to birds is vastly reduced. Native cottonwood-willow forests, sustained by a high groundwater and dynamic flows in the riparian zone, die off and invasive salt cedar replaces it leaving the landscape heavily disturbed and unable to provide habitat for wildlife.

Climate change is decreasing stream flows throughout the state putting more pressure on what intact ecosystems are left. Declines in water supply, increases in temperature and aridity, and disruptions in phenology are projected across the Southwest. These climate-driven changes are likely to reduce flows and increase vulnerability of habitat for birds. Now, more than ever, it is critical to protect and steward places like the Gila River because they act as a stronghold against climate change and therefore are invaluable to birds.

TAKE ACTION

Attend one of the five NEPA scoping meetings in July or submit a comment online or through the mail by the July 20th deadline.  

Albuquerque: July 2, 2018, 4-7 PM

State Bar of New Mexico, Rodey Classroom. 5121 Masthead

Silver City: July 9, 2018, 4-7 PM

Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conference Center, Multipurpose Room, 3031 Highway 180 East

Cliff-Gila: July 10, 2018, 4-7 PM

Cliff High School, Old Gymnasium, 622 St Hwy 211

Glenwood: July 11, 2018, 4-7 PM

 Glenwood Community Center and Library, 14 Menges Ln

Virden: July 12, 2018, 4-7 PM

Virden Community Center, 110 Richmond Ave

On line at www.nmuniteis.com

Via U.S. Mail: Phoenix Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation, ATTN: NM UNIT EIS, 6150 West Thunderbird

Road, Glendale, AZ 85306

Via email: NMUnitEIS@empsi.com (if emailing comments, please use "NM Unit EIS" as the subject of your email)

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