Saving water keeps our rivers and streams healthy which is essential for fish and wildlife species which need water to survive Utah’s dry summers. Saving water is everyone’s responsibility because if we don’t save water now, new water sources will force mandatory increases in water rates in the future.
Utah’s rivers are more than just water sources and trout streams. Rivers are life-support systems that keep fish and most wildlife alive in Utah’s deserts. 80 percent of Utah’s wildlife species depend on rivers for a portion of their life cycles which is why saving life from extinction means keeping water in our rivers.
For birds, amphibians, and mammals rivers act as migration corridors, as water sources and provide forage. That’s why in mid-summer, Pronghorn antelope in Utah often stay within 4 miles of a water source and consume 1.2 gallons per day.
Utah’s rivers are essential to life because of a diverse corridor of vegetation they support called a riparian zone. Accounting for only 7 percent of Utah’s landscape, riparian areas support more wildlife species than all other habitat types combined.
Riparian zones provide important nesting and prey habitat for avian species and why bird densities may be twice as high in riparian areas than in upland areas. In the arid Southwest, including parts of Utah, over 75 percent of all bird species nest primarily in riparian zones. Around 80 percent of neotropical migrant songbirds depend on riparian woodlands for nesting.
People are often shocked to learn Utah’s rivers have no legal right to exist. Our rivers are someone’s water rights headed downstream and why the majority of Utah fisheries are dried up for agriculture, municipal use or waste. In Utah, municipal and agricultural diversions partially or totally dewater 53 percent of the State’s 6,281 miles of fishery streams. As we divert, dam, and channel rivers, the future of aquatic species grows more and more uncertain.