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Friends of the River

Friends of the River:  Preserving, Restoring and Sustaining California's Rivers


Friends of the River was founded in 1973 during the struggle to save the Stanislaus River from inundation by the New Melones dam.  For 40 years we've been at the forefront of river conservation, successfully winning victories locally while setting national precedents for effective environmental action.  



Friends of the River is nationally recognized as an authority on the adverse effects of dams on rivers and ecosystems and as one of the most effective grassroots organization in the country working on behalf of rivers.


Why California's rivers need Friends of the River:


·                     More than 95% of riverside wildlife habitat and wetlands have been lost to development.

·                     69% of native California fish species are extinct, endangered, or in decline.

·                     80% of historical salmon and steelhead habitat in the Central Valley have been blocked by dams.

·                     Migratory birds and waterfowl have decreased from an original 60 million to only 3 million.

·                     More than 1,400 dams block California's rivers. Only one major river --the Smith-- remains entirely free flowing.


Over the past 40 years, Friends of the River’s successes have included:


·                     Protecting over 2,100 miles of California rivers as Wild & Scenic including the Kings, Kern, Merced, Klamath, Tuolumne, South Yuba, Sisquoc, Big Sur, East Carson and West Walker rivers, as well as Sespe and Cache Creeks; 

·                     Introducing Federal Wild & Scenic River protection bills for more 100 river-miles on more than a dozen rivers in California Rivers in 2015;

·                     Blocking the Army Corps of Engineers from requiring river levees under their jurisdiction to be cleared of all woody vegetation – we filed suit and won ithe case n 2014;

·                     Defeating (repeatedly) legislation to build an Auburn Dam on the American River which again looks to be coming up in Congress in 2015;

·                     Increasing flows for fish on the Merced River through the hydropower relicensing system – and opposing the raise of New Exchequer Dam which would allow the reservoir to extend into a Wild & Scenic section of the Merced River and permanently weaken the national Wild & Scenic Rivers Act;

·                     Preventing dams on Deer Creek, Mill Creek and the McCloud River and damaging hydroelectric projects on the Mokelumne, Kings and Clavey rivers;

·                     Preserving runs of endangered Coho and Chinook salmon and winter steelhead;

·                     Training tens-of-thousands of citizens to be effective activists to save their local rivers.


Today, Friends of the River has 3,800 members well-known for their activism, over 150 dedicated river guide and outreach volunteers, 9 volunteer staff members, 5 paid staff members, and a 12-member Board of Directors. Over the years, we've enjoyed the support of some of the world's leading outdoor adventurers and environmentalists like Yvon Chouinard, Royal Robbins, Allen Steck, John Yost and Richard Bangs.


Friends of the River depends on members and donors to support its river and water conservation work. Over half of our annual budget comes from individual supporters.


Won’t you join us?

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