Memphis, TN, December 18, 2003 - The Bush Administration took a significant step towards continued protection of wetlands by declaring that there would be no new rules to affect the historical protection of wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act. In the statement, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt announced that the decision reaffirms and bolsters protections for wetlands and wildlife habitat in the United States.
Ducks Unlimited (DU) Executive Vice President, Don Young stated, "For nearly three years, the staff and volunteers of DU have provided important science-based input to issues related to the January 2001 Supreme Court decision, known as SWANCC, that affects wetland protection. DU looks forward to continuing our work with the White House, EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and others to fulfill President Bush's commitment to bolster protection of wetlands."
Wetlands protection under the Clean Water Act has been a concern for many sportsmen-conservationists since the Supreme Court issued the SWANCC decision, which, depending upon agency interpretation, could accelerate losses of isolated wetlands and small bodies of water.
"DU is very pleased with the Bush Administration's decision to maintain this important component of federal wetland protection," says DU President, John Tomke. "Protection of key habitat areas for waterfowl is central to the mission of DU and critically important to North America's migratory bird populations. This is a victory for efforts to conserve, restore, and manage critical breeding areas for waterfowl."
This much anticipated announcement comes just four days after President Bush met with Tomke and other conservation leaders to discuss major issues facing the wildlife conservation community. During that meeting, DU's president raised the importance of protecting isolated wetlands through the Clean Water Act to ensure healthy waterfowl and other wildlife populations, and emphasized it as a critical issue to hunter-conservationists and other outdoor enthusiasts across the United States.
"We applaud the Administration's wetland protection decision," says Young. "There are still some outstanding issues, including pending cases before the Supreme Court with regards to the Clean Water Act. Therefore, we will continue to devote time and attention to this topic in an effort to conserve and protect this country's critical wetland resources."
For additional information on this issue, see DU's SWANCC Fact Sheet.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States has lost more than half of its original wetlands and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres every year.
Contact: Laura Houseal