Sportsmen across the nation are applauding the recent announcement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency clarifying what streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. The draft rule will begin to provide jurisdictional certainty that allows for long-overdue restoration of our nation’s streams, wetlands, and critical wildlife habitat.
“The recent action will provide protection for the waters that wildlife depend on and that sportsmen enjoy,” said Gaspar Perricone, Director of the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance. “We are pleased that the draft rule provides a framework to start restoring critical water sources and quality and in a manner that protects agricultural practices and private lands.”
The jurisdiction and authority of the Clean Water Act has been uncertain for years as a result of two Supreme Court decisions that removed protections for nearly 20 million acres of wetlands, intermittent streams, and ground water tributary systems. The two decisions offered by the Court created uncertainty among federal and state agencies, as well as landowners and agriculture producers, about which water sources were protected under the Clean Water Act. In 2011, the administration initiated a process to begin restoring the protections that were lost.
The recent ruling goes a long way toward restoring protections for many, thought not all, of the critical water sources and quality standards that are necessary to sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations.
“Waterfowl hunters in particular will benefit from enhanced wetlands protections, as the cherished prairie potholes that serve as the breeding grounds for millions of ducks could receive greater protection,” said Jared Mott, Policy Director for Bull Moose Sportsmen. “It is vital for sportsmen to continue to participate in the rulemaking process and make sure that the final version of this rule will protect the waters and wetlands that are so important for wildlife.”
Clean water is essential to protecting our sporting heritage. Protected streams and healthy wetlands sustain fishing and hunting, and support $200 billion in total economic activity each year in hunting and fishing and more than 1.5 million jobs — sustaining rural communities across the nation.