On Clean Water Act Anniversary, Hunters and Anglers

*Ducks Unlimited*Izaak Walton League of America*

*National Wildlife Federation*Trout Unlimited*

On Clean Water Act Anniversary, Hunters and Anglers

Call for Clean Water Restoration

Washington, DC (October 16, 2007) As we approach the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act on October 18th , national outdoor groups representing millions of hunters and anglers applaud the Act's past success - and call for passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 to ensure its success in the future.

Congress passed the 1972 Clean Water Act to set a national standard protecting all the nation's waters. For more than three decades, the agencies charged with enforcing those safeguards have viewed the aquatic system as a whole, realizing that intermittent streams and small wetlands are critically important elements.The benefits to the nation from the Clean Water Act legislation and its historically broad protections have been incalculable.

But the Act is now in peril.Two recent split decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court have put many of America's wetlands, streams, lakes and ponds at risk by creating ambiguity over the scope of the law. These decisions have left at least 20 million acres of the nation's wetlands at risk of losing Clean Water Act protections. Additionally, some 60 percent of stream miles in the United States which do not flow year-round could also lose protection.

The Clean Water Restoration Act reaffirms the traditional scope and clear purpose of the Clean Water Act.

"For a generation we have made tremendous gains in protecting our streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands.But now the future of our hunting and angling tradition literally hangs in the balance unless we can ensure the protection and restoration of our nation's wetlands, lakes and streams," says Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

"Prior to 1972, wetlands were being lost at a stunning rate.While losses are still too high, the Clean Water Act has slowed these losses dramatically.Without the Act's protection for all important wetlands, waterfowl in the most vital wetlands in North America are imperiled," says Dr. Alan Wentz, Ducks Unlimited's Senior Group Manager for Conservation and Communications. "Ducks are at risk, and the future of duck hunting is at risk as well."

The waters at risk of losing protection help replenish water supplies, filter out pollution, work as buffers against storms and floods, and provide habitat for America's fish, birds and other wildlife.The impacts of losing protection are myriad:

Arizona alone contains 122,000 miles of ephemeral or intermittent waters - 96 percent of the water courses in the state - which could lose Clean Water Act protection.

Many waters in the Prairie Pothole region of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota may lose Clean Water Act Protection.The area is known as the nation's "duck factory," producing at least half of America's waterfowl.

On the Texas panhandle, there are almost 20,000 playa lakes encompassing more than 200,000 acres, where some 30,000 to up to 500,000 waterfowl winter.The Corps of Engineers now considers many playa lakes as "isolated" and outside its jurisdiction for Clean Water Act enforcement.

"The problem is especially acute in the western United States for trout and salmon, where streams which provide spawning and rearing habitat during wet times of the year may be dry at other times of the year and thus may not be protected," says Steve Moyer, Vice President of Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited.

Thirty-four million anglers and thirteen million hunters rely on the Clean Water Act for healthy fish, bird and other wildlife populations that at-risk waters support.These sportsmen and women contribute $70-billion a year to the economy.Wetlands are also vital to three-fourths of America's commercial fish production, which is worth $111 billion.

"If these wetlands and streams are left unprotected from degradation and destruction, the economic loss would be staggering.Congress must act now to restore the protections that existed prior to the Supreme Court decisions and the federal guidance. Our nation's hunters and anglers are our original conservationists, and want a legacy of clean water and abundant wildlife left to our children," says David Hoskins, Executive Director of the Izaak Walton League.