Fishable Waters Act of 2000 Introduced in Congress Today
4/12/2000 -- -- Contacts:
Maggie Lockwood (703)284-9425
Steve Moyer (703) 284-9406
April 12, 2000
(Washington, DC) - Trout Unlimited, the nation's leading coldwater conservation organization, joined pro-golfer and a long-time angler David Duval and a broad coalition of farmers, state resource agencies, U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) and Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) today to introduce legislation that would establish an innovative, voluntary public-private partnership program to protect and restore fish habitat, the Fishable Waters Act (FWA).
"David Duval recognizes something that Trout Unlimited volunteers have been doing successfully for over 40 years," said Steve Moyer, TU Vice President of Conservation. "The benefits of locally-led, watershed-based solutions are already being realized in places like New York's Beaverkill River, California's Lagunitas Creek, Connecticut's Naugatuck River and Lititz Run. With the funding and conservation tools provided by the FWA, these ongoing efforts can do even better, and new councils would be encouraged to be formed to restore their home waters."
For Trout Unlimited, the Fishable Waters Act offers a powerful tool to the organization's 120,000 volunteer members who carry out the mission of conserving, protecting and preserving North America's coldwater fisheries. An amendment to the Clean Water Act, the FWA would provide watershed councils with the funding needed to secure the scientific and technical resources they need to design and implement watershed measures necessary to protect and restore fish habitat. The state-established watershed councils would include the major fisheries conservation and private landowner stakeholders in the watershed who will work together cooperatively to prepare customized plans to meet the habitat needs of local fisheries. Typical fish habitat conserving measures that the FWA would yield, all done cooperatively with landowners and local communities, would include controlling soil erosion and other forms of nonpoint pollution from agricultural lands, providing additional water to streams that are suffering from excessive water withdrawals, removing obstacles which block fish migratory routes, such as small obsolete dams, cleaning up acid mine drainage from abandoned mines, and protecting streamside habitats from roads and other forms of urban development.
Many of these activities are not done very often under the existing Clean Water Act programs, but are precisely the prescriptions needed to restore fish habitats and make waters "fishable" once again. "Trout Unlimited strongly supports the largely regulatory programs that exist in the current Clean Water Act," said Moyer. "They are the foundation upon which the FWA intends to build."
"The Clean Water Act has done a huge amount of good for our nation's waters over the past 30 years," said Moyer. "Our members have utilized its tools in a variety of ways to improve water quality in their home waters." The Clean Water Act has been especially helpful for controlling pollution from discharges from industrial plants and municipal treatment facilities into rivers, lakes and streams.
Despite these efforts, however, progress in preventing polluted runoff from urban development and agricultural areas (sometimes called nonpoint pollution) has lagged. Decades of damage to waterways has rendered nearly 40% of America's waters not fishable or swimmable by national standards. As a result, there are 35 species of trout and salmon on the federal endangered species list, and many aquatic species nationwide are declining or in peril.
Add One, TU Helps Introduce Fishable Waters Act, 4/12/00
"The Clean Water Act promised to make our waters fishable and swimmable, but the promise has not been fulfilled. Fish and habitat repair have simply taken a back seat for the last 25 years," said Charles Gauvin, president of Trout Unlimited. "At Trout Unlimited we have long believed that 'if we take care of the fish, the fishing will take care of itself.' The FWA will stimulate local participation, strengthen partnerships between public and private landowners and offer more resources to our watersheds. This legislation is a strong step towards protecting and repairing America's troubled waters."
Congress is scheduled to consider the Fishable Waters Act when it takes up reauthorization of the Clean Water Act later this year.
Examples of TU Watershed Recovery Projects that would likely be the type of work supported by the FWA include the following:
New York's Beaverkill River, BeaMoc Watershed Contact: Nat Gillespie: TU's Catskills Coordinator (607) 498-5960 Jim Bell: TU's BeaMoc Chapter (914) 439-3154
The BeaMoc is part of the larger river system including the East Branch, West Branch and Main Stem of the Delaware, the latter of the two are considered by many to be the finest wild trout fisheries on the East Coast. The Trout Unlimited led recovery of the BeaMoc has attracted the collective partnership efforts of NYDEC, NY Department of Transportation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the National Park Service, the Delaware County Department of Public Works, the towns of Hancock, Livingston Manner and Roscoe and many others.
Connecticut's Naugatuck River Contact: Albin Weber, Chairman TU Naugatuck Valley Chapter (203) 264-1976
Throughout the 19th century, factories and municipalities along the river openly dumped sewage and factory waste into the river. The Naugatuck Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, helped to form a watershed council and steer the river recovery project, which is expected to improve water quality and remove several obsolete small dams, leading to the restoration of 32 miles of river. The river restoration project, an initiative of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, local Trout Unlimited volunteers, and other private and public partners, also includes upgrading six municipal wastewater treatment plants.
California's Lagunitas Creek Contact: Stan Griffin, TU Redwood Empire Chapter (415) 388-1563, (510) 528-5390
The Lagunitas Creek watershed is just a few miles north of San Francisco Bay. Once a nationally renowned sport fishery, Lagunitas Creek's population of coho salmon continues to hang on despite the dramatic decline of salmon throughout the region. TU's North Bay Chapter, together with various state and federal agencies, has protected streamside salmon habitat and removed several barriers to salmon migration, and aims to use Lagunitas Creek restoration as a model for other California coastal stream restoration efforts.
The Fishable Waters Coalition (FWC) is a volunteer alliance formed to create and advocate for enactment of the Fishable Waters Act. The singular goal of the FWC is to ensure that the "fishable" condition promised by the Clean Water Act passed 28 years ago is fulfilled. Its members are the American Sportfishing Association, Trout Unlimited, the Izaak Walton League of America, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, the American Fisheries Society, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and the Pacific Rivers Council.
For more information about the fishable waters act, visit www.asafishing.org