Hunters & Anglers Win Major Clean Water Victory But Threat to Nation's Wetlands Continues

Bush administration called a halt to the rewriting plans that could have eliminated Clean Water Act protections for up to 60 percent of the nation's waters

01-21-2004 // NWF Media Team

In an incredible show of clout, America's outdoor enthusiasts have convinced the White House to reverse itself and abandon plans to rewrite the Clean Water Act (CWA) rules. Hunters and anglers across the nation were mobilized to make their voices heard by numerous groups including the National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, the Izaak Walton League and Delta Waterfowl.

Last month, in direct response to hunter and angler demands, the Bush administration called a halt to the rewriting plans that could have eliminated Clean Water Act protections for up to 60 percent of the nation's waters.

You kept your readers and listeners informed about what the proposed Clean Water Act rulemaking would mean for America's fish and game. As a result, hunters and anglers came to realize their critical role in protecting the nation's waters. Moreover, NWF, DU and TU held hunter and angler summits in Chicago and Atlanta. At these summits, sportsmen and women launched a campaign that resulted in thousands of letters to federal legislators and to President Bush. Finally, several hunting and angling interests were invited to the White House and spoke with President Bush about the issue. Michael Leavitt, the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, also heard the concerns of America';s sportsmen and women and played a key role in the decision to stop the new rulemaking.

Together, we won a hard-fought victory for clean water, but unfortunately, new enforcement guidelines that revoke Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and streams still remain in place. In January of 2003, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, that together enforce the Clean Water Act, issued a guidance memo to their field staffs, directing them immediately to strip Clean Water Act protections from what the EPA itself estimates to be up to 20 million wetland acres. So, while the rulemaking has now been abandoned, these damaging enforcement guidelines remain in effect, needlessly putting many wetlands, streams and other waters critical to wildlife at risk of unlimited pollution and destruction.

America's hunters and anglers must make sure Leavitt and the administration hold firm to their promise of "no net loss" of wetlands. We need to let the administration know we want the enforcement guidelines withdrawn. In addition, we need to call on Congress to pass the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act, legislation pending in both the House and Senate that reaffirms the Clean Water Act's broad scope over all waters in the United States.

Stopping the rulemaking was significant, but until the enforcement guidelines are scrapped, much of America's most important waterfowl and fish habitat remains vulnerable.

Contact NWF's Linda Shotwell at (703) 438-6083 or shotwell@nwf.org if you would like us to put you in touch with policy, scientific or legal experts to help you bring your readers the latest news on the Clean Water Act as well as information on how it affects hunting and fishing.

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