An international border slices through the final stretch of the Colorado River, and for decades the region has been pushed to the political margins by both the United States and Mexico. The river only occasionally reaches the Gulf of California, and the once-lush wetlands on both sides of the border have been almost completely destroyed.

But neglect has also helped the region in small ways. This issue of High Country News looks at the Salton Sea, a stopover for millions of migrating birds in southeastern California, which was created by mistake and is now sustained by the leftovers of inefficient irrigation. The next issue of HCN will report on the accidental rejuvenation of wetlands and river habitat in the Colorado River Delta, across the border in Mexico.

These signs of life in an abused landscape have given some people hope - that the people and wildlife in these places might someday get some guarantees. But to restore the delta or the Salton Sea, defenders of the region must compete with farms and powerful cities that also want the river's water. And because there never seems to be enough water to go around, they're also finding themselves fighting each other.