NWF's Work Conserving America's Waters and Wetlands
The United States is blessed with rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, and marine ecosystems that provide world class fishing and waterfowl opportunities, economic productivity, rich fish and wildlife habitat, drinking water, flood protection, and a host of other benefits. Water is the heart of our most cherished natural landscapes. Healthy aquatic ecosystems support the great salmon runs of Bristol Bay, the blue crabs and waterfowl of Chesapeake Bay and Mississippi River Delta, the fishing and boating traditions of the Great Lakes, the extraordinary biodiversity of the Everglades, and cold water mountain streams of the west.
In 1972, Congress passed an expansive Clean Water Act to protect all "waters of the United States." For almost 30 years, both the courts and the agencies responsible for administering the Act did just that. Our Nation's water bodies were not only protected from unregulated pollution, they were rescued from their crisis status.
What problems are our waters and wetlands facing?
America’s waters are threatened as never before. Until recently, the greatest threats to waters were point sources of pollution that could be targeted directly and relatively effectively. Now, sources of degradation are much more complex and far reaching. America’s waters are being severely degraded by draining, nutrient pollution, invasive species, climate change impacts, nonpoint source pollution, habitat destruction, mine waste, sewage overflows, toxic waste, air pollution, dams and levees, and sediment mismanagement. Impacts to aquatic ecosystems have a direct effect on fish and wildlife.
- Flooding/rising sea level
- Excess nutrient runoff
- Invasive species
- Pollution, mercury contamination
- Water diversion
- Sewage overflows
- Climate change
- Intensified storms
- Acid rain
How NWF is Protecting Water:
National Wildlife Federation is working across the country to unite sportsmen and women, outdoor enthusiasts, bird-watchers, gardeners and others to protect and restore waters and wetlands.
Helping Wetlands and Watersheds
Clean water is essential to the health of America's outdoor recreation opportunities. National Wildlife Federation works to protect wetlands, streams and floodplains by working to restore Clean Water Act protections and stop wetland and stream destruction and pollution.
Restoring the Mississippi River Delta
The Mississippi River Delta supports incredible fishing and is the winter home for 70% of the waterfowl in the Central and Mississippi flyways. But since levees were built in the early 1930s, the Delta has lost an area of coastal wetlands, forests and barrier islands almost as large as Delaware. Working with Louisiana Wildlife Federation and Ducks Unlimited, NWF has helped bring together 700 businesses and organizations interested in restoring Louisiana's waterfowl and fishing habitat with the Vanishing Paradise campaign.
Healing the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are home to numerous fish such as walleye, whitefish, trout and lake sturgeon, and they also provide habitat for millions of migratory birds that pass through in the spring and fall. These waters face serious threats from invasive species, toxins, water diversion, wetland destruction, sewage overflows and climate change--all problems the National Wildlife Federation works hard to solve.
Protecting the Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay watershed covers six states along the Eastern U.S. The Bay's saltwater and freshwater ecosystems are home to more than 350 varieties of fish, hundreds of invertebrates like blue crab and oyster, and many species of waterfowl and shorebirds. As a key stopover site along the Atlantic Flyway, one million waterfowl winter in the Chesapeake Bay region each year. National Wildlife Federation works to protect this region through both national efforts, as well as through our Chesapeake Mid-Atlantic Regional Center.
Preserving Bristol Bay
The Bristol Bay area is home to rivers and streams that are as productive today as they were thousands of years ago. Anglers come from all over the world for that "once in a lifetime" experience. In total, an estimated 37,000 fishing trips are taken each year to Bristol Bay freshwater fisheries, contributing $60 million annually to the state. Unfortunately Bristol Bay is threatened by Pebble Mine, potentially the largest open pit mine in the world.
Reforming America's Water Management Practices
National Wildlife Federation coordinates the Water Protection Network (formerly the Corps Reform Network) to help hundreds of organizations and community leaders understand and influence Corps projects and federal water policy to ensure water projects and policies are economically and environmentally sound.