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For every angler who plucked their first trout from a black-bottomed beaver pond high in the Rockies under the watchful eye of a father or a grandfather, this day is for you. For every fisherman or fisherwoman whose first bluegill came to hand after it pulled a bobber under water on some lonely little stream shaded by sweet gum trees, this day is for you, too.
This is the day your water—your sacred, special water—regained the protections it deserves. Thanks to a thoughtful and carefully crafted new clean water rule, America’s headwater streams are once again protected under the Clean Water Act.
What does this mean? It’s simple, really. Anyone who wants to dredge a small stream in the Appalachians, or run a road crossing through a creek in the Cascades or divert a small stream in the Rockies will have to apply for a permit to do it. It’s common sense, really. These small waters—these so-called Waters of the United States—are the genesis of America’s great rivers and home to vital spawning and rearing habitat for our country’s wild and native fish. They trickle down the mountains as snowmelt, rainwater and spring seeps, and they end up far downstream, where they’re used to water our crops, cool our industrial generators … or supply our communities with fresh, clean drinking water.
Trout Unlimited, a national coldwater fisheries conservation organization, also came out in support of the rule.
In a release, Chris Wood, the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, wrote, "The waters this rule protects are the sources of our nation's coldest, cleanest water. Not only do these water provide the needed spawning and rearing waters for our trout and salmon, they are the sources of our iconic rivers and streams - they provide the water we all use downstream ... The most important thing this rule does is restore Clean Water Act protections to headwater streams, and that means the world to anglers who understand the important of these water to their success in the field. But these waters are important to everyone, not just anglers."
Wood also says the rule does not require any new actions from current water users as it requires anyone wishing to develop land, build roads or impact small streams to get a permit to do so.
Anglers however throughout the northwestern region are applauding the EPA's new rule. Trout Unlimited President and CEO, Chris Wood said, “The EPA was right to craft this thoughtful rule in a way that protects our headwaters and our fish.”
Maine environmental groups highlighted the leadership of former Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie in the 1972 landmark legislation, saying clean water is essential for agriculture, fish and wildlife and Maine’s recreational industry.
“The Clean Water Act was passed to make America’s rivers and streams swimmable, fishable and drinkable,” Jeff Reardon, president of the Maine Council of Trout Unlimited, said in the release. “Water flows downstream, so protecting headwater streams is essential to protect downstream trout habitat, recreation and drinkable water.”
Anglers in the Southeast said they support a new rule announced Wednesday that restores protections for America’s headwater streams under the Clean Water Act.
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