On April 23, 2024 the White House announced its America the Beautiful Freshwater Challenge to protect America’s most endangered waters. This executive initiative calls on a broad community of environmental organizations, tribes, states, businesses, and other entities to join the White House in a two pronged challenge to:

  • Reconnect, restore, and protect 8 million acres of wetlands by 2030, with an emphasis on forested, vegetated, peat soil, brackish and tidal wetlands; and
  • Reconnect, restore and protect 100,000 miles of rivers and streams by 2030, using approaches like removal of impediments and stream bank restoration.

The need for action is high. A recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) report highlights the alarming loss of wetlands across the country –  more than half of wetlands in the contiguous 48 states are gone. The report noted that loss rates have increased by 50 percent since 2009 and that without additional conservation actions to protect them, wetland loss will likely continue, reducing ecosystem benefits for people and habitat for fish and wildlife and plants. 

Additionally, legal actions like the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett v. EPA decision have left many of our waters vulnerable to pollution and degradation, making it imperative for states, tribal governments, and federal agencies to collaborate and strengthen protections for our waters in a post-Sackett America.

Wetlands act as natural filters, removing pollutants and sediment from water and helping to maintain water quality. Additionally, they play a crucial role in mitigating floods by absorbing excess water during storms and reducing the risk of downstream flooding. By preserving and restoring wetlands, we can protect the sources of our clean drinking water and buffer communities against the impacts of extreme weather events, contributing to overall resilience in the face of climate change.

It’s time to join the challenge to protect our waters!

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