Shenandoah River Considered Endangered

By: Lauren McKay
By: Lauren McKay

It's number five on a list of the ten most endangered rivers in the nation. An annual report released Wednesday by "America's Rivers" claims the Shenandoah River is at risk. The report says rapid development is threatening the health of the Shenandoah River. Some are saying elected local officials need to better control growth, others say it needs to be implemented on a state level. Endangered rivers. Two words many didn't want to see in the same sentence as the Shenandoah River, but some say, the report offers a promise, as well as a caution. "It offers us promise that we have a chance to do something about the concerns that are raised in the report and it's a caution that if we don't do something soon, we're going to have much bigger troubles down the road," says John Eckman, executive director of the Valley Conservation. The report says county governments along the Shenandoah have a rapidly-closing window to get a handle on runaway development before it changes the river forever. "The responsibility for saving farm land, protecting our natural resources and for directing the human settlement in our areas falls on local government," says Eckman. "Our elected officials both at the county level and the state level could do more to control growth," says Mary Gessner, member of Friends of the North Fork. Many are concerned the local officials aren't sticking to their county's comprehensive plan. "You have to remember that a comprehensive land use plan is a guide and is not a bible or a set of laws that you have to follow, it's a guide as to where, under good conditions, under everything being equal where development should or should not take place," says Pablo Cuevas, Northern Rockingham County Board of Supervisor. Those close to the river, both in residence and in heart say they've noticed the changes happening. "From our prospective, living on the river, and working with it, we've seen a decline in the water quality in the river, we've seen fish kills in recent years, both of which are indicative of just a general decline in the health of the river," says Gessner. The most endangered river on the list is the Pajaro River in Pajaro, California. This is the first time the Shenandoah River has ever been in the report.

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