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The Importance of Clean Water for Hunting and Fishing

Wetlands and Tributary Streams are Essential for Hunting and Fishing: The vitality of our nation’s watersheds is intrinsically linked to the abundance of wildlife and fish populations. The intricate network of small, tributary streams and their downstream rivers not only serve as habitats for various fish species but also provide crucial shelter for upland birds, deer, bears, and other wildlife. Non-adjacent wetlands, now bereft of federal protections under the Agencies’ conforming rule, play a pivotal role in supporting migratory bird and duck populations, such as the renowned prairie pothole region. Additionally, vital nesting grounds for migratory birds, such as groundwater-dependent wetlands and springs in regions like Colorado’s San Luis Valley and California’s Central Valley, face imminent risk.

The loss of these protections jeopardizes wildlife populations and essential habitats, thereby diminishing the quality of hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations.

Aquatic Resources are Under Threat: Aquatic resources, crucial for preserving the integrity of the nation’s waters, are now in jeopardy. The removal of the requirement for a 404 Permit prior to the destruction or harm of non-adjacent wetlands in proposed development projects means that mitigation measures to prevent harm no longer apply. EPA estimates suggest that between 51-63% of wetlands are at risk of loss under the conforming rule. Moreover, the rule’s restriction to “relatively permanent, standing, or continuously flowing” tributary streams excludes ephemeral streams from Clean Water Act jurisdiction, putting them at risk.

Approximately 57% of the nation’s total stream miles are ephemeral, serving as vital components of watershed networks and conduits for pollutants downstream. The loss of federal protections for these headwater features not only increases the risk of downstream pollution but also threatens the aquatic function and habitats vital to hunters and anglers.

Healthy habitats and clean water are fundamental to the outdoor economy’s foundation and will play a pivotal role in driving future economic opportunities, ensuring that future generations of hunters and anglers can continue to enjoy the natural world.Ā  To learn more about nature conservation please visit: