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Red River In Danger, Group Says

Oklahoman Published: April 17, 1997

BIOG: NAME: UPD: 19970418 -TEXT-

A federal salt-diversion project makes the Red River one of the nation's most jeopardized rivers, an environmental group said Wednesday.

American Rivers released a list of 10 endangered rivers and 20 threatened rivers. The Red River made the threatened list.

The Red River Chloride Control Project could eliminate shrubland and dramatically change the river channel, the group said in a news release.

"Lower water levels would also affect the breeding habits of least terns, bald eagles and whooping cranes," a statement from American Rivers said. "Entire species of fish would be eliminated."

Other opponents to the salt-diversion project include Lake Texhoma business owners, the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation, Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating also opposes the $310 million project for economic and environmental reasons.

The Army Corps of Engineers has spent about $85 million on the 40-year-old project, which calls for a giant system of dams, brine reservoirs, pipelines and pumps. The goal is to improve water for industrial, municipal and agricultural use in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The Corps re-evaluated the project this year but has not made its recommendations public.

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