Originally published here

By Aaron Kindle

“ I gave my heart to the mountains the minute I stood beside this river with its spray in my face and watched it thunder into foam, smooth to green glass over sunken rocks, shatter to foam again. I was fascinated by how it sped by and yet was always there; Its roar shook both the earth and me.”

— Wallace Stegner

Sportsmen and women learned recently that, yet again, our sporting heritage is under attack. In another cut to the heart of our traditions, the Trump administration announced it will roll back protections for headwaters streams and wetlands.

Credit: NWF Sportsmen/Aaron Kindle

The administration recently proposed the most significant weakening of the Clean Water Act in history. This move would eliminate protections for wetlands that are not connected via constant flow to larger waterways – which would make it easier degrade more than half of our nation’s wetlands. This includes the most important and threatened waterfowl habitat in North America – the Prairie Pothole Region, home to more than half of North American migratory waterfowl.  

It would also remove protections for ephemeral streams, which flow after a rain or snowmelt, and are critical to our nation’s juvenile and spawning fish- the places many large trout we all love to catch begin their lives. These streams provide habitat and shelter for fish and deliver food, nutrients, spawning gravels, and woody material downstream. They are particularly common and important in the Western United States, which has the highest number of seasonal and rain-dependent streams in the nation. Removing protections for all seasonal and rain-dependent streams means up to 70% of our nation’s stream miles could be threatened;  a tragedy for fish and wildlife, hunting and fishing, and clean water.

These invaluable waterways support our fishing and waterfowl hunting, and the several hundred thousand jobs these activities sustain. That’s not to mention the drinking water these headwaters provide to 1 of every 3 Americans.

Credit: Aaron Kindle/NWF Sportsmen.

We all live downstream. Reasonable protection of these waters is reasonable to expect. It is common sense to keep these waters and wetlands healthy and viable. They not only lubricate our recreational pursuits but also sustain and protect our nation’s drinking water.

As our leaders decide to pick away at the at literal lifeblood of our country they too pick away at our lifeblood, degrade our health, and erode our traditions.

Unfortunately, we are experiencing a helpless feeling, a grasping, gnawing feeling pushing us to summon some last ditch way to rescue something seemingly already lost. Can we somehow send a lifeboat to rescue these waters we hold so dear?

We certainly hope so and have joined a cadre of leading sportsmen’s organizations to provide recommendations to the replacement process the administration has promised will ensue.

NWF Sportsmen Photo/Aaron Kindle

The 2015 Clean Water Rule—which thousands of conservationists like you helped us achieve by voicing your support—conserves fish and wildlife habitat by protecting our nation’s wetlands and small streams. We ask the administration to restore protection for these vital streams and wetlands. We also ask the administration to carry out the will of 92% of the sporting public who believe these streams and wetlands should indeed be protected under the Clean Water Act. And, finally to keep our country moving forward instead of rolling back the clock on widely accepted practices that protect our most vital resource.

We plead with the Trump Administration to help us carry on our sporting traditions. Do right by sportsmen and women, and the American people. Assure us that these vital waters, where we catch our cherished trout and harvest the waterfowl we have fought so hard to maintain, will be clean and healthy now and forever.

Take Action: Join America’s sportsmen and women and call on the Administration to protect streams and valuable wetlands, keystones of America’s clean water and hunting and fishing heritage.PROTECT WETLANDS & STREAMS

It’s not too late to protect our nation’s vital fish and wildlife habitat from pollution. Tell the EPA that clean water protections must not be undone.

NWF’s Aaron Kindle fishing with his son. Credit: NWF RMRC.

Aaron is lifelong Westerner, originally from Wyoming, who possesses a deep appreciation for the West, its people, and its wild country. He comes to National Wildlife Federation from Trout Unlimited, where he worked on public lands issues for their Sportsmen’s Conservation Project for four and a half years. Aaron went to college in Gunnison, Colorado, and received his M.S. from the University of Montana. He is an avid hunter, angler, boater, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. He lives with his wife and two children in Salida, CO. Aaron focuses on hunter/angler conservation efforts throughout the West, including keeping public lands in public hands, responsible energy development, and elevating the National Wildlife Federation’s sporting voice across the country.

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