WASHINGTON. May 23, 2007 — Congressman Jim Oberstar (MN) was joined by 157 other Congressmen as he introduced bipartisan legislation to restore protection to important wetlands. Ducks Unlimited supports this bill because over half of the nation’s wetlands, and the majority of wetlands that are most important to waterfowl, are currently vulnerable to loss.
Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings issued in 2001 and 2006 diminished the Clean Water Act’s ability to protect important wetlands such as prairie potholes, playa lakes, and rainwater basins. The rulings questioned the authority, under certain circumstances, of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enforce the Clean Water Act on wetlands, streams and ponds that are not part of a major “navigable” waterway. In an effort to ensure protection of the most important waterfowl habitats, Ducks Unlimited has been working with a variety of interests, including the White House, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, other conservation groups, and state governments since the 2001 ruling.
The legislation introduced by Congressman Oberstar is known as the Clean Water Restoration Act (HR2421). He stated that “this bill is designed to restore the authority of the Clean Water Act so it has the same effect it had prior to the Supreme Court’s rulings.”
“In keeping with DU’s 70-year mission to protect waterfowl, wetlands and duck hunting, we strongly support this Congressional action to restore wetland protections that were in place since 1972. Over half of the wetlands that waterfowl depend upon have been lost,” said Dr. James Hulbert, Ducks Unlimited President. “Fewer wetlands mean fewer ducks which means less waterfowl hunting. Fewer wetlands also mean fewer other wildlife species, increased flooding and diminished water quality. It’s time for sportsmen and all Americans to take a stand. Ducks Unlimited’s over one million supporters expect nothing less.”
“We are pleased that Congressman Oberstar has introduced a bill that will clarify Congress’ intent to protect significant wetland areas including geographically isolated wetlands such as the prairie potholes,” said Don Young, Executive Vice President of DU. “All parties involved with wetland issues, including development interests, will benefit from greater certainty regarding which areas are protected under wetlands laws.”
Congressman Oberstar was joined by Rep. John Dingell (MI) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (MI) in introducing the bill. The Clean Water Restoration Act is already endorsed by 300 organizations representing the conservation community, family farmers, anglers, boaters, unions and civic associations. The original Clean Water Act contained broad exemptions for agriculture and forestry operations, as well as certain activities related to oil, gas, mining and construction operations. Those exemptions will remain protected by this legislation.
Ducks Unlimited supports this effort to seek legislative protection for significant wetland areas and will work with Congressman Oberstar and others to ensure this legislation achieves successful consideration in the Congress and enactment to protect America’s wetlands. Failure to assure future protection of these wetlands will have serious long-term consequences to society and to the future of duck hunting in North America.
Contact: Mike Checkett
With more than a million supporters and almost 12 million acres conserved, 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 80,000 wetland acres each year.