The Walton Family Foundation has announced investments totaling $35 million in support of the restoration and long-term health of the Colorado River Basin and the Mississippi River Delta.
Part of a larger five-year strategy to preserve healthy, flowing rivers and sustain communities and the wildlife that depend on them, the grants include $20 million for an effort involving American Rivers, Western Resource Advocates, Trout Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership to create a more effective water management system in the Colorado River Basin. Among other things, the grants will support efforts to develop a market-based water bank program in the Upper Colorado, help Arizona implement proactive conservation programs, and ensure that California fulfills its commitment to mitigate the shrinking of the Salton Sea.
Grants totaling $15 million over two years will support three core initiatives in the Mississippi River Delta region — advancing the recently approved Louisiana Coastal Master Plan; securing restoration funds, developing innovative funding mechanisms, and ensuring funds are spent on restoration projects; and addressing future challenges through advances in science, modelling, and mapping capabilities. Grants also were awarded in support of the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Audubon Society's work in both the Colorado River Basin and the Mississippi River Delta.
"The Colorado and the Mississippi are two of our greatest rivers, and they and the communities that depend on them are under serious threats," said Rob Walton, who chairs the environment committee of the foundation's board. "We are at a critical inflection point — the decisions made in the next few years will determine the long-term environmental and economic viability of both of these regions."