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Santa Cruz on Most Endangered River list

A river that runs from the Mexican border through Marana is on a list for the most endangered rivers of 2024
Santa Cruz River Sign
Posted at 9:45 AM, Apr 18, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A river in Tucson is ranked fourth on American Rivers' 2024 list of the most endangered rivers in the country.

American Rivers, a national organization that advocates for water health, released their list of the top endangered rivers on April 15.

The Santa Cruz River, which flows through Tucson, Tubac and Marana just made it in the top five.

Luke Cole, the Director of the Santa Cruz River Program for the Sonoran Institute, nominated the river. He and his team have been working on restoring the river for the past 30 years.

“Because we’re so early on in the restoration," he explained. "We can’t let bad legislation or new policies take water out of this river system that’s just like so massively important to this community both culturally, tribally and recreationally. Plus all that wild life that uses the river… it’s amazing!”

The youngest stretch of the river has been flowing since 2019. Already, an ecosystem of plants and animals has grown around it.

"It's alive," he said, watching water bugs skim over the water where small fish are swimming below.

Cole said he's glad the river made the list because the attention could double as a call to action.

The Sonoran Institute created a petition to have the Santa Cruz River designated as an Urban National Wildlife Refuge which would allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department to create outdoor education and recreation surrounding the river.