MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 12, 2006 - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case in February that could dramatically affect the future of more than half the 100 million acres of wetlands remaining in the United States. Today, Ducks Unlimited joined other conservation organizations and two of the world’s largest outdoor gear retailers in filing an amicus brief addressing whether the Clean Water Act protects wetlands adjacent to small tributaries that flow into larger bodies of water.
The brief describes for the court how these wetlands and small tributaries are vitally important to the future of fish and wildlife conservation, and to the more than 82 million hunters, anglers and wildlife-watchers who spend $108 billion annually in the United States pursing their outdoors passions.
For more than 30 years, the Clean Water Act has protected these kinds of wetlands and the fish and wildlife that depend upon them. The federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that these adjacent wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act, but that could change if the Supreme Court overturns their ruling.
“This is a serious issue for all duck hunters and the millions of Americans who understand the value of wetlands to hundreds of wildlife species, as well as the many benefits wetlands provide people,” said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young. “The coalition that’s filed this brief came together, because we understand that a place for wildlife, clean water and flood protection are important to the quality of life we all want. Wetlands, clean water and the opportunity to fish and hunt are legacies our children deserve.”
Jim Murphy, wetlands counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, agrees.
“The lower court properly recognized that the Clean Water Act was intended by Congress to broadly protect America’s waters,” he said. “If the Supreme Court reverses the lower court findings, we risk reversing three decades of progress in cleaning up our nation’s waters and slowing losses of wetlands. What a sad legacy to leave our children.”
The Supreme Court case combines two cases, Carabell v. United States and United States v. Rapanos, which are on appeal from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The lower court upheld Clean Water Act protection of headwater wetlands and streams. An Army Corps of Engineers official has independently estimated that if the lower court ruling is not upheld, well over half of the remaining U.S. wetlands and streams would lose protection under the Clean Water Act.
The coalition filing the brief is supporting the Bush administration’s position that Congress intended to protect headwater wetlands and tributaries under the Clean Water Act when it was passed in 1972.
Joining Ducks Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation in the amicus brief are the American Fisheries Society, American Sportfishing Association, Bass Pro Shops, Boone & Crockett Club, Izaak Walton League, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Orvis, Pheasants Forever, The Wildlife Society, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited and Wildlife Management Institute.
: Scott Yaich
Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Programs
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands − nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.
The National Wildlife Federation is America’s conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children’s future. www.nwf.org