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Hunters and Anglers Support Clean Water Act Protections

Colorado River headwaters. Credit: Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia.
Colorado River headwaters. Credit: Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia.
July 23, 2015

DENVER – A new national survey of hunting and fishing enthusiasts reveals broad support among voters of all political stripes for applying Clean Water Act standards to smaller streams and wetlands.

The poll was commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation.

Bill Dvorak, a river outfitter in Colorado, says hunters and anglers understand protecting smaller streams is a safeguard, not a burden on business.

"Because we all realize that what comes down a small stream ends up eventually going into big streams, it can have a tremendous impact on the water quality and the fisheries habitat and everything that relies on that water," he says.

The number of rivers and lakes clean enough for fishing and swimming doubled after the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, according to the Stroud Water Research Center. Two months ago, the EPA finalized a rule clarifying which waters are covered under the Act. The move, which restored protections to smaller streams and wetlands, has since come under attack by some members of Congress.

The survey found a majority of hunters and anglers across the political spectrum consider water quality, fish, and wildlife habitat important issues when casting their ballots. Dvorak says he's not surprised by the poll's results.

"It's one of the most important things they think about when they go to the voting booth," he says. "It's that 'who are the people that are actually supporting clean water and strong wildlife habitat and fisheries habitat.' So it's definitely not a partisan issue."

Eighty-three percent of survey respondents support Clean Water Act protections. Only 14 percent were opposed. Eighty-two percent of respondents said it's possible to have a strong economy along with clean water, without choosing one over the other.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO