EPA and the Corps of Engineers Takes Step to Improve Fishing
For the past decade, a cloud has hung over 60 percent of the rivers and streams historically covered by the Clean Water Act, one of our country’s bedrock laws for protecting rivers, streams and wetlands. For more than 30 years, the Clean Water Act’s protections applied to isolated wetlands and intermittent and ephemeral streams—that is, streams that may periodically dry up—and helped to make thousands of US rivers and streams more swimmable and fishable. That was all thrown into question in 2001 and 2006 when two Supreme Court rulings removed the protections of the law from these streams and bodies of water.
The EPA proposed a rule today that will once again apply Clean Water Act protections for intermittent and ephemeral streams, while asking people how they think the EPA should handle “isolated wetlands” that can be so important for duck habitat.
Every angler understands the importance of headwater streams—including intermittent and ephemeral ones. In fact, 80 percent of all streams are headwater streams. They provide the flow for larger rivers; are important spawning and rearing habitat for young fish and bugs; and help to determine the quality of downstream habitat for fish.
It is commonplace for regulated industries to beat up the EPA for pushing “job-killing proposals that protect the environment at the expense of the economy.” Well, anglers spend $48 billion per year on equipment and trips every year--$48 billion, and we create more than 800,000 jobs. The Clean Water Act has long exempted the normal activities of farmers, ranchers, and foresters, and nothing in this rule will change that. Simply stated, today’s announcement by the EPA will make fishing better, and it will do so in a way that strengthens the economy.
This is a rare opportunity to restore protections to some of America’s most essential headwater trout and salmon streams. If you love to fish, and you think quality habitat translates to quality fishing, then please take the time to comment on the EPA draft.