The sportsmen's community is commenting on proposed guidance that would more clearly define which U.S. waters are subject to Clean Water Act protections. Photo courtesy of Brett Prettyman.
Some of the nation’s top sportsmen’s organizations – Ducks Unlimited, the Izaak Walton League of America, the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and the TRCP – applaud the administration for taking an important step to begin restoring Clean Water Act protections to streams and wetlands. These waters provide critical habitat to fish and wildlife, flood control, drinking water and many other benefits.
Issued by the administration on April 27, the proposed guidance would more clearly define which U.S. waters are subject to Clean Water Act protections. This would begin restoring longstanding protections for many of the nation’s wetlands, streams, lakes and headwaters that have been vulnerable to pollution and destruction following two recent Supreme Court decisions. To ensure transparency and diverse stakeholder participation in the process, the proposed Clean Water Act guidance will be available for public comment and review for 60 days.
Decisions in the two Supreme Court cases and agency guidance issued in 2003 and 2008 jeopardize crucial water resources and wildlife habitat. Taken together, they removed protections for at least 20 million acres of wetlands, particularly prairie potholes and other seasonal wetlands essential to waterfowl populations throughout the country. Intermittent streams that provide critical habitat for fish, especially trout, and feed into the public drinking water systems for more than 117 million Americans also are at risk.
“The importance of this guidance cannot be overstated,” said Steve Moyer, vice president of government relations for Trout Unlimited, a TRCP partner. “Restoring these lost protections means more habitat in the long run for all the fish and wildlife that sportsmen love to pursue.”
Restoring protections for these waters directly benefits the American people, fish and wildlife, and outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing and boating. The economic benefits to the United States from these wetlands and streams are staggering. For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that wildlife-dependent recreation in the United States generates $80 billion in hunting and fishing expenditures annually.
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