SOURCE: National Wildlife Federation

National Wildlife Federation

November 13, 2014 12:00 ET

Hunters and Anglers to the EPA: Protect Our Streams and Wetlands

"We Need to Restore These Protections Now, Before It Is Too Late"

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - November 13, 2014) - Hunters and anglers want the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to take action to better protect America's streams and wetlands. That's the message in a new letter signed by 210 hunting, fishing and sporting groups from across the country.

For the past decade, it has been unclear if two million miles of streams and many types of wetlands were protected under the Clean Water Act, the result of two controversial Supreme Court decisions. Since those decisions, the rate of wetlands destruction has gone up 140% nationwide -- the first such increase in wetlands loss since the 1980s.

In April, the EPA and the Corps released a proposal clarifying which types of streams and wetlands would be protected by the Clean Water Act. The proposal is open for public comment until tomorrow, November 14.

"Increasingly, America's wetlands are being bulldozed and the health of our rivers and streams is threatened," said Jan Goldman-Carter, senior manager on wetlands and water for the National Wildlife Federation. "We need to restore these protections now, before it is too late."

"Great hunting and fishing for America's 47 million sportsmen and women starts with clean water," said Jimmy Hague, director of the center for water resources at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "The process the EPA and the Corps have started to clarify clean water protections is a once-in-a-generation chance to ensure we can pass on our outdoor legacy to our children. Today's letter reflects the widespread urgency in the sporting community to seize that chance."

More than one in three Americans get drinking water from streams that would be protected by this rule. The proposal could also have significant benefits for the economy as hunting and fishing generate $200 billion annually and create 1.5 million jobs.

"It would be hard to keep water clean in this country without considering where it comes from," said Mike Leahy, Conservation Director for the Izaak Walton League of America. "This proposal recognizes that upstream waters are just as important to clean water as those further downstream, and need to be part of the solution to water pollution too."

The two agencies aim to finalize the rule in the spring of 2015. The President has promised to veto any legislation attempting to block the proposal.

The 210 hunting and fishing groups on this letter are representative of the broad public support behind the proposal. A 2012 poll of sportsmen found that 79% of hunters and anglers favor restoring Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and waterways, including small creeks and streams. More than 700,000 Americans have submitted comments backing the proposal in the past six months.

National organizations on the letter include the American Fisheries Society, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America and B.A.S.S. LLC.

"Make no mistake, we have a tough fight ahead of us," said Steve Moyer, Vice President of Government Affairs for Trout Unlimited. "But America's sportsmen and women have spoken -- finalizing this rule is our best chance to protect our waters and our way of life for future generations."

Open the attached PDF to read the letter and see the complete list of signers.

National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. Learn more at www.nwf.org.

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