Report: 2 Minnesota rivers, 1 in Wisconsin and Illinois among most endangered

A fourth river from the Great Lakes Region – the middle fork of the Vermilion River in Illinois – was ninth on the list. (americanrivers.org)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Two rivers in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin and Illinois are among the most endangered rivers in the country, according to a new report by an environmental advocacy group.

American Rivers annually publishes a list of the 10 most at-risk rivers in the U.S., Minnesota Public Radio reported. The group considers a waterway’s significance and the magnitude of the threats it faces when compiling the list.

The rivers face decisions that could change their ecosystems and how communities use them, said Olivia Dorothy, the associate director for the Upper Mississippi River basin at American Rivers.

“This report basically tries to identify rivers that are at a crossroads,” Dorothy said.

This year’s list ranked the Kawishiwi River in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as the third most endangered in the nation. Environmentalists fear a proposed underground copper-nickel mine near Ely could pollute water that runs into the Boundary Waters. President Donald Trump’s administration is considering whether to move forward with a 20-year mining moratorium on projects in the area as proposed during President Barack Obama’s administration.

An eight-mile stretch of the Mississippi River in Minnesota was ranked sixth. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering removing two locks and dams on the river. The removals would be a positive step and restore the river’s natural character, Dorothy said.

The Kinnickinnic River came in at No. 10 and runs through the city of River Falls in northwestern Wisconsin. City officials are seeking to renew federal licenses for two dams along the river that will soon expire.

A fourth river from the Great Lakes Region – the middle fork of the Vermilion River in Illinois – was ninth on the list.

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