In This Issue
Progress Made To Restore Clean Water Protections
Progress Made To Restore Clean Water Protections
One of the League's top priorities is restoring Clean Water Act protections to our nation's streams, wetlands, and other at-risk waters. The Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took an important first step toward achieving this goal last year by proposing new guidance – instructions to staff in the field – for implementing the Clean Water Act. We made more progress last month when the Corps and EPA submitted their revised guidance to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Although this sounds bureaucratic, it is a critical step toward finalizing science-based guidance that will better protect small streams and some wetlands.
Although this is certainly good news, the road to fully restoring clean water protections is long and riddled with potholes. Some members of Congress spent 2011 trying to block any effort to restore Clean Water Act protections for small streams, wetlands, and drinking water supplies. We're preparing for similar attacks this year.
Even with new guidance in place, many waters – especially prairie potholes and other seasonal wetlands – will remain at risk of being drained and filled. To better protect resources that are essential to ducks, high-quality hunting, and flood control, EPA and the Corps need to propose new Clean Water Act regulations.
Stay tuned to Conservation Currents and Action Alerts from the League for updates on this issue and ways you can help protect the water resources that are critical to our outdoor sports and recreation.
On February 13, President Obama submitted a proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2013 to Congress. This proposal launches the annual budget process in Congress, and the request provides a framework for funding everything from national defense to transportation. Deliberations in Congress will now focus on going up or (more likely) down from here.
The administration's budget represents a mixed bag on issues that are important to the League. On one hand, the proposed budget would continue investments in long-standing priority areas such as restoring the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. It would also allocate additional resources to pressing new issues, including more robust research on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on air and water quality, surface and groundwater resources, and local communities. On the other hand, the proposed budget follows a disturbing trend of cutting Farm Bill conservation programs – cuts that undermine wetland, grassland, and habitat conservation across millions of acres.
Please visit the League's Web site for a detailed summary of budget provisions related to League priorities. In the coming weeks, League staff will provide testimony to Congress regarding our budget priorities and send out Action Alerts on critical funding issues that need your support.
The Missouri River has lost nearly three million acres of habitat due to the creation of six reservoirs and a navigation channel. This has led to declines in native fish and wildlife, including three species listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. The League is working to restore the river as part of our Missouri River Initiative.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Park Service (NPS) have proposed a plan to increase conservation and recreational opportunities on the Missouri River. The Missouri River Land Protection Plan would focus on the area between Fort Randall Dam and Lewis and Clark Lake and from Gavins Point Dam to Sioux City, Iowa.
Through the plan, FWS and NPS staff would work with landowners to set aside land for recreation or fish and wildlife habitat using easements and fee-title purchases. Funding would come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants, and other sources.
The proposal requires approval from both the NPS and FWS regional directors. The public comment period runs through March 16, and the League encourages our members and supporters to voice their support for this conservation initiative.
"Training structures" have been used for more than 100 years to direct the Mississippi River, narrowing water flows to scour the bottom and deepen the river for navigation. You can find these structures throughout the navigable portions of the upper Mississippi River, but most are located below the Melvin Price Locks and Dam (near Alton, Illinois).
In addition to damaging fish and wildlife habitat, there is significant evidence that these structures increase flood heights and contribute to flood damage downstream. Despite this evidence, the Army Corps of Engineers has continued building river training structures – with limited outside involvement or opportunities for public comment – by relying on environmental assessments that date back to the 1970s. However, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently found this practice to be a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). GAO is now requiring the Corps to prepare a new environmental assessment for river training structures in the middle Mississippi River – the stretch between where the Missouri and Ohio Rivers drain into the Mississippi.
Opportunity for public comment is part of the environmental assessment process. The Corps is asking that public comments be submitted by mid-March, and the League encourages all members and supporters to weigh in on this issue to help improve the health of the Mississippi River and its value to fish and wildlife and the American people. Visit the League Web site for talking points. You can e-mail your comments to RiverTrainingStructures@usace.army.mil.
Many League members and chapters run water quality monitoring programs – they're the League's calling card. The data you collect is an important tool for educating your community about water quality issues and steps the public can take to improve local waterways. But how can you make this data publicly accessible?
We have the solution: Our Creek Freaks Web site. Anyone can enter water quality data into this Web site. Then you can compare data from different days, share that information with your monitors, and use our colorful data tools to talk about water quality. You can enter information for as far back as you've collected it – biological, chemical, and physical monitoring data.
The online data entry forms match those used for the League's Save Our Streams program. Once your program is in the database, you can easily link to it from your Chapter Web site and other stream monitor Web sites to make the data accessible to volunteers and help recruit new volunteers to your program.
It's easy to get started. Visit www.creekfreaks.net and create your own login. Check the box that indicates you would like to be a program leader and include your program name (it could be your League chapter, your stream monitoring group, or something fun you create) and your city/state in the comment line. We will set up your Creek Freaks Web page and turn the controls over to you!
Don't miss the March 15 deadline for two national League awards, one for your most outstanding chapter volunteer and one for your chapter.
Judge John W. Tobin Award: Who is the most dedicated Ike among your chapter members – the one who shows up for every meeting, signs up first for work crews, serves on committees, and makes the organization run more smoothly? Who is the key volunteer for your chapter's conservation projects or outdoor activities? Give your chapter's outstanding volunteer a hearty "thank you" by nominating her or him for the Judge John W. Tobin Chapter Volunteer Appreciation Award.
Defenders Chapter Achievement Awards: This award recognizes outstanding chapters across the country that embody the League's motto: "Defenders of soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife." These chapters showcase the depth of the conservation commitment among Izaak Walton League chapters.
Do you know a college student studying conservation or an environment-related major? The Izaak Walton League offers two $2,500 scholarships for qualified college juniors or seniors. Specific requirements are available at www.iwla.org/scholarships. For more information about the application criteria and process,
These scholarships are made possible through the generous support of the Izaak Walton League of America Endowment.
90 Years of Defending Outdoor America
To commemorate the League's 90th anniversary, we are proud to announce our "$90 for 90" campaign. Donate $90 or more to the League, and you will receive our limited-edition Snapshots in Conservation anthology.
Your contribution will also support the League's national conservation work. Please visit the League Web site for more information.
Support the League Through a Gift in Your Will
One of the simplest ways to make a gift to the League is through your will. Bequests can take the form of cash, securities, life insurance, land, or buildings. Please visit our Web site for details and a free brochure on how to set up your bequest.
Resource of the Month: IWLA Chapter Brochures
Want to get the word out about your chapter? Our IWLA chapter brochure template is free and easy to use. Pre-printed color brochures offer background information on the League with space for you to highlight your chapter activities.
Visit the League Web site for an order form and downloadable templates.
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