The story of the Rio Grande is similar to that of other desert mountain rivers in the U.S. Southwest, from the Colorado to the Gila. The water was apportioned to farmers and other users at a time when water levels were near historic highs. Now, as a megadrought has descended on the West, the most severe in 1,200 years, the flows are at crisis levels.
And to make things even more uncertain, the drought is accompanied by an aridification of the West — a prolonged drying that scientists say may become a permanent fixture in the region. The number and scope of wildfires are also increasing sharply; New Mexico’s ongoing Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire has now burned 315,000 acres.
The concern of Tricia Snyder and others is that much of the Rio Grande River — already greatly compromised by channelization, dams, and irrigation — is on a trajectory to disappear and take out the bosque forests, fish, and other creatures that live in it and along it. “We’re past the point of easy answers,” she says.
How we got to the edge of disaster – and what is to be done – is central to this article. Please, read on and join in the fight to rescue this historic river.