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Hunters and Anglers Favor EPA Clean Water Plan

PHOTO: Hunters and anglers in Pennsylvania are nearly unanimous in their support for a controversial EPA's clean water policy, according to a new poll. Pennsylvania stream photo courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
PHOTO: Hunters and anglers in Pennsylvania are nearly unanimous in their support for a controversial EPA's clean water policy, according to a new poll. Pennsylvania stream photo courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
July 23, 2015

CARLISLE, Pa. – A poll of national and Pennsylvania hunters and anglers has found
overwhelming support
, even among self-described conservatives, for a controversial EPA clean water policy.

Commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the survey found support for an EPA plan to apply Clean Water Act protections to small headwaters and wetlands – something that had been under a legal cloud.

Ed Perry, a lifelong hunter and angler, works for the federation in Pennsylvania.

"Over 85 percent of Pennsylvania hunters and anglers support the rule," he says. "Overwhelming support, not only across the nation, but particularly in Pennsylvania."

Across the spectrum – age, sex, geography, political orientation – people surveyed said clean water is a top priority for them. Perry says three out of four Republican hunters and anglers across the country support the policy, and he adds that in follow-up conversations, one Republican fisherman said trying to protect major waterways without protecting their small tributaries is "stupid."

"Some of the comments were interesting," he says. "One Republican angler from Pennsylvania said protecting our fisheries and our drinking water should always be a priority."

According to the EPA, the clean water policy would help protect drinking water for nearly a third of Pennsylvanians. The agency says the policy would ensure protection of more than 40,000 miles of state headwaters, and half of its wetlands. Republican pollster Lori Weigel says part of the support among hunters and anglers seems to come from their personal connection to the waterways in question – making it a backyard issue for many of them.

"When we sat and talked to people in focus groups and open-ended discussions, they point to specific places that they know of that have benefited," she says.

While some industries have criticized the plan as over-regulation and congressional Republicans may attempt to overturn it, the NWF survey is the result of a partnership between a Republican and a Democratic polling firm. Both found strong support for the rule even among politically conservative outdoorsmen.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - PA