Final ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule Represents Victory for Sportsmen, Fish and Wildlife, Clean Water

backcountryhunters dot org logoA highly anticipated rule that would enhance critical fish and wildlife habitat, improve the nation’s supply of drinking water and restore clarity to the federal Clean Water Act was finalized this morning, eliciting praise from business owners and sportsmen’s groups, including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

Today’s announcement by the administration concludes a multi-stakeholder process aimed at eliminating confusion surrounding the scope of the Clean Water Act. The resulting “Waters of the U.S.” rule reflects a lengthy and comprehensive vetting process, including more than 1 million public comments. Widely supported by citizens, sportsmen and outdoor-focused businesses, it represents a practical approach that addresses the needs of both industry and the general populace.

“The release by the administration of the final Waters of the U.S. rule culminates an unprecedented effort to restore clarity to a bedrock natural resources law, the federal Clean Water Act,” said BHA Executive Director Land Tawney. “The rule will conserve resources important to our fish, our wildlife, our citizens – and to the waters and wetlands that are central to our national identity.

“A chorus of ducks can be heard quacking from the wetlands where waterfowl are busy nesting and rearing their young, and fishtail slap high-fives are surfacing on the headwaters of our nation’s most precious trout and salmon streams,” continued Tawney, an avid waterfowler and angler. “These are some of the key habitats protected via the Waters of the U.S. rule. We thank the administration for persevering in the face of unrelenting opposition to sustain these places – and the outdoor opportunities they provide – for future generations to experience and enjoy.”                        

Nonetheless, attacks on the Waters of the U.S. rule and the rulemaking process are ongoing. Senate legislation introduced last month by Sens. John Barrasso and Joe Donnelly would scuttle the rulemaking. Likewise, Rep. Bill Shuster introduced a bill in the House of Representatives in April that would force the rule’s withdrawal. Both measures are strongly opposed by sportsmen and others who care about clean water.

Business interests joined with sportsmen in applauding the administration’s action.

“My business, along with thousands of others, relies on clean water,” said Ben Kurtz, co-owner of Denver-based Fishpond USA. “A love of fishing and a commitment to conserving our fisheries inspired Fishpond and underlies our company’s philosophy. The responsible management of these critical resources is key to our continued existence. We thank the administration for advancing efforts to restore clarity to one of America’s bedrock conservation laws, the Clean Water Act, in the face of intense and ongoing opposition.”

“People from all over the world come to Montana for world-class fishing,” said Erik Hess, owner of the Missoula Fishing Company, based in Missoula, Montana. “They contribute to the $70 billion generated nationally each and every year by hunters and anglers. The Waters of the U.S. rule is vital to our nation’s economy, as well as to fish and wildlife, sportsmen and the population at large.”

Outdoor recreation in the United States sustains a strong and growing economy, providing $646 billion in revenues annually and supporting 6.1 million non-exportable jobs.

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