Proposed CWA rule would conserve fish and wildlife habitat, enhance public access, fuel outdoors-dependent economy
WASHINGTON – As members of the U.S. House of Representatives meet tomorrow to consider the regulatory scope of the federal Clean Water Act, sportsmen continue to advocate in support of conserving the wetlands, streams and waterways valuable to fish and wildlife and crucial to hunting and angling.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership submitted testimony to Wednesday’s hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which is deliberating a proposed rule that would clarify which waters are covered under the Clean Water Act. If finalized, the rule would remove ambiguity resulting from multiple Supreme Court decisions that for years have left critical streams and wetlands vulnerable to pollution and loss.
The TRCP statement to Congress asserts, “This rule represents the best chance in a generation to restore protections to waters upon which hunters and anglers rely while preserving all exemptions for agricultural activities – and, in some cases, enhancing them.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency jointly proposed the Clean Water Act rule in March. Sportsmen and other stakeholders are emphasizing the central role played by streams and wetlands and the CWA rule’s potential to sustain fish and wildlife, bolster access opportunities for hunters and anglers and power a sportsmen-driven economy that is worth $200 billion per year and supports 1.5 million jobs.
“Our hunting and fishing traditions and the sportsmen’s economy run on clean water,” said Jimmy Hague, director of the Center for Water Resources at the TRCP. “This rulemaking, which sportsmen have been requesting for years, has the potential to restore Clean Water Act protections to many of the waters on which we rely for quality days in the field. Once finalized, the proposed rule will help us sustain these traditions and the associated economic benefits for generations to come.”
Wetlands loss in the U.S. increased by 140 percent between 2004 and 2009, the years immediately following the Supreme Court rulings. The sportsmen stressed that the impacts of the proposed rule on the Clean Water Act would be significant and overwhelmingly positive, helping to reverse many of these dramatic losses effected in the wake of the court’s decisions.
“Trout Unlimited strongly supports the proposed rule because it will clarify and strengthen the very foundation of the Clean Water Act’s protections for important fish and wildlife habitat,” said Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs at Trout Unlimited. “The proposal is especially important for headwater streams that provide vital spawning and rearing habitat for trout and salmon, and we look forward to working with our agricultural partners to make sure it works for farmers and ranchers.”
“This proposed rule is simple, straightforward and based on years of input from stakeholders and scientists,” said Jan Goldman-Carter, senior manager of wetlands and water resources at the National Wildlife Federation. “It clarifies which waters are – and are not – covered by the Clean Water Act. This rulemaking represents the best chance to clarify and restore much needed protections for our streams, wetlands and drinking water supplies; to cut through regulatory confusion; and to maintain healthy fish and wildlife habitat for our sportsmen and -women.”
Earlier this month, 15 leading sportsmen’s organizations wrote to congressional appropriators urging them to “oppose any legislation that would block the administration’s very deliberate and vital action to clarify and restore longstanding Clean Water Act protections for headwater streams and wetlands across the country.”
Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.
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