Healthy rivers are the lifeblood of the America. They provide drinking water, flood protection, animal habitat, recreational opportunities, and tourism dollars to local communities as they snake their way through the American landscape. But their protection doesn't stop and start at the river's edge. So even if you don't live right near a river, it's likely that the choices you make each day affect a nearby river, and the health of that river affects the choices you make each day.


With that said, I'm pretty glad to know that there are organizations out there dedicated solely to the protection of rivers, both large and small. Six of those fine organizations are now finalists for the River Network Grant Contest sponsored by MillerCoors and River Network.  


The contest will award almost $60,000 in grants to support watershed protection programs — and we get to help decide how the cash is doled out. Check out the River Network Grant Contest site to vote for your favorite project.  


The six finalists include:

Friends of Marsh CreekOakley, Calif.

Clinton River Watershed Council Rochester Hills, Mich.

Friends of the Mississippi River St. Paul, Minn.

Ohio River Foundation Cincinnati, Ohio

Lake Champlain International Colchester, Vt.

Friends of the Rappahannock Fredericksburg, Va.


Voting is open from now until 5 p.m., PST on March 19, 2012. The finalist with the most votes will be awarded a $25,000 grant, second place will receive $15,000 and third place $10,000. The remaining projects will each get $2,000. Winners will be announced online on March 29.  

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