birds and water in a changing West

Audubon has an excellent new report on risks to birds, and all that go with them, along the rivers and arid landscape lakes across western North America. Lots there, but I think this bit is especially important:

Without reform, today’s water management framework could lead to severe water shortages to large numbers of people and economic production, likely resulting in political crisis. In that circumstance, it will grow increasingly difficult to advocate successfully that water should remain or be restored in rivers for nature’s sake. An important step in protecting the birds of the Colorado River Basin is thus to improve the reliability and resiliency of the water supply for people as well as nature.

This is a critical point in thinking about contemporary water/environmental politics. It’s not enough to simply say “But the birds!” Environmentalists’ greatest chance for success requires helping ensure reliable supplies for the people, because without that the environment will always take the hit.

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