Healthy, Resilient Rivers

Healthy rivers sustain people and natural systems, and are vital assets for the communities through which they flow. Yet many are threatened by pollution, habitat destruction, depletion, and climate change, especially in low-income and communities of color. Successfully tackling these threats requires an integrated, equitable approach at multiple scales. This includes addressing river corridors, floodplains, and upstream and downstream connections. River Network advances these approaches by strengthening local organizations’ abilities to develop diverse coalitions, lead advocacy efforts, promote best practices, and leverage funding to achieve resilient and accessible rivers.

Below, learn about River Network’s work related to healthy, resilient rivers, and connect with our staff working on these topics.


River Network is exploring and working at the forefront of many types of river and water planning approaches. In Colorado, we’re supporting rural communities to advance initiatives to protect and improve rivers through Stream Management Planning, which has launched community-led projects in almost a dozen locations to conduct data-driven assessments of river health that prioritize protecting or enhancing watersheds’ environmental and recreational assets. We’re also exploring how formal collaboratives can help communities access federal funding to support a variety of river projects.

Learn more on and explore case studies from four collaboratives across the West.

Clean water is essential for all people and nature to thrive. River Network supports clean water initiatives across the network, including through:

Farms, ranches and rangelands occupy 44% of U.S. land, consume 80% of available water supply, and contribute to pollution of our waterways. River Network sees a huge need and opportunity to build partnerships with farmers and ranchers to improve the health of rivers. Click below for more on our work at this intersection, watch the video above for our Colorado progress, and wiew our 2022-2025 plan Defining River Network’s Path Forward on Healthy Rivers in Agricultural Landscapes.


All about the water in a river, when it’s there, and how to keep it there! Changes in river flows impact the chemical, physical and biological aspects of our rivers, and hydrologic alteration has been recognized as a cause for failing to meet designated uses for aquatic life under the Clean Water Act. Flows are a key aspect of a river’s health and resilience and River Network supports the network on this topic in many ways.


Western rivers are in critical condition. These rivers and the communities that depend on them need resilient management solutions more urgently than ever. An emerging tool in the resiliency toolbox is integrated river management, or IRM. IRM aligns planning, policy making, and projects to promote the continuation and restoration of these natural processes.

In response, River Network is launching a new program, River Smart Communities, to support local leaders working to ensure their communities and rivers are healthy and resilient into the future. Check back often for updates on River Smart Communities and how you can learn from our work!

A person stands on the bank of the Gulkana Wild & Scenic River in Alaska. It's a clear sunny day and mist lifts off the surface of the water. The banks are lined with grasses and evergreen trees.

For four years, River Network and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have partnered to provide funding for nonprofit organizations working on stewardship activities on USFS administered Wild & Scenic Rivers (WSR) and surrounding lands. From addressing wildlife/human conflict to restoring forestlands devastated by wildfires to connecting rivers with new communities, the Wild & Scenic Rivers Stewardship Partnership Funding provides nonprofit partners with critical funding for on-the-ground work. River Network is also a founding member of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Coalition.

Learn more about this program and access additional information on WSRs.

Healthy, Resilient Rivers on the Blog

Read the latest from our staff and partners on our healthy rivers work and what’s happening across the network:

Meet Our Team