CONSERVATION CURRENTS NOVEMBER 2013

Conservation Currents

In This Issue


Water Resources Bill: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Lock and Dam 5a - Fountain City, WIOn October 23, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) – the main bill Congress uses to authorize Army Corps of Engineers water development projects, such as locks and dams, and programs to restore rivers harmed by such projects. Unfortunately, the legislation approved by the House contains several harmful provisions and missed opportunities.

The Izaak Walton League led an effort to expand river restoration work – at no additional cost to taxpayers – in critical areas along the Upper Mississippi River. The Upper Mississippi River-Environmental Management Program is the main program for restoring the Upper Mississippi, but projects are limited to the main stem of the river.

Congressman Tim Walz (MN) introduced an amendment to allow restoration projects at the confluences where tributaries enter the river and anywhere between the river bluffs. (One of the major problems threatening the river is sediment and other polluted runoff from tributaries.) Congressional leaders blocked this common-sense amendment and missed an opportunity to improve natural resources along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The League, our members, and our chapters thank Congressman Walz for his efforts.

The House also approved provisions that will directly harm rivers across the nation. The controversial "environmental streamlining" provisions curtail government transparency and public engagement on water resources projects, increasing the likelihood that water projects that can destroy natural areas and undermine outdoor recreation will proceed.

The U.S. Senate passed its version of this legislation in May. The bills differ on many of the points listed above, so a conference committee will need to work out the details before sending the bill to the president's desk. Stay tuned for opportunities to contact members of Congress during the conference committee work.

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League 2013 Conservation Policy Handbook Online

2013 Conservation Policies bookletThe League's 2013 Conservation Policies handbook is now online. These policies guide League staff, officers, and members as we pursue our mission to "conserve, restore, and promote the sustainable use and enjoyment of our natural resources, including soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife." League policies also influence national conservation policy.

The 2013 Conservation Policies handbook contains four new policies approved by members at the League's 2013 national convention. These policies address emerging contaminants of concerns in our waterways, sustainable clean energy, safe disposal of coal ash, and oil and natural gas drilling. You can read the new resolutions on page viii of the handbook.

It's not too early to start thinking about 2014 resolutions. Get them in to the League's national office early to allow for the most robust review by IWLA staff and Resource Committees. The process is outlined toward the beginning of the policy handbook.

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Does Water Flow Downstream – and Does It Matter?

Rock in streamScience clearly shows that most upstream waters are connected to waters further downstream; that they are all important to fish, wildlife, and people; and that pollution flows downstream. So why are so many of our upstream waters and wetlands not protected from pollution, dredging, filling, and other threats? Because the U.S. Supreme Court and the Bush administration created uncertainty over the level of connections between upstream and downstream waters.

A new report should clear up any confusion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a draft report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence, that should ensure policy decisions are informed by the best science available.

The next issue EPA needs to clear up is how upstream waters should be managed to ensure clean water for all Americans. EPA has begun to update rules that explain which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. A draft rule is expected early next year. You can find more details about this issue on our Protecting Clean Water Web page.

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Wildlife Refuges Drive the Outdoor Recreation Economy

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge - NYA new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, Banking On Nature: The Economic Benefits to Local Communities of National Wildlife Refuge Visitation (PDF), shows that for every $1 appropriated by Congress to run the refuge system, nearly $5 is generated in local economies. The overall economic benefit of national wildlife refuges is estimated at $2.4 billion per year.

Despite their economic and environmental importance, national wildlife refuges have experienced severe funding cuts. The need for adequate funding to manage 561 refuges and 38 wetland management districts was emphasized in a press release from the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE). The Izaak Walton League is part of this coalition supporting national wildlife refuges.

In response to the new report, IWLA Executive Director Scott Kovarovics said, "Refuges nationwide provide some of the best hunting and fishing for American sportsmen and women. The Banking on Nature report shows once again that taxpayers and local communities receive tremendous economic benefits when we conserve natural resources and promote sustainable outdoor recreation."

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Protect Outdoor America While You Work

Earthshare logoCheck CFC #10620 on your workplace giving form if you are a federal employee. Or look for EarthShare in your workplace giving campaign materials if you work for a private corporation or local government agency. It's one of the easiest ways to conserve outdoor America for the future generations!

For more information or to start a workplace campaign, contact develop@iwla.org.


Simplify the Holidays: Give the Gift of Conservation

Simplify the Holidays Searching for the right holiday gift? Try making a gift of the outdoors!

Make a donation in honor of a family member or friend or give them a gift membership, which includes four information-packed issues of Outdoor America and our monthly Conservation Currents e-newsletter.


Resource of the Month: 25-Straight Shooter's Patches

25-Straight Shooter's PatchFor skilled trap and skeet shooters who are able to hit 25 straight clay targets, Izaak Walton League "25-Straight Shooter's Patches" are available for sale to interested chapters and eligible members in single and bulk unit quantities (10 or 50).

Get more details on the League Web site.



Contact Information

If you have any questions about this newsletter or other IWLA programs, please contact:

Dawn Merritt
Communications Director
707 Conservation Lane
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
(301) 548-0150 ext. 220
dmerritt@iwla.org

Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America protects America's outdoors through community-based conservation, education, and the promotion of outdoor recreation.


PHOTO CREDITS: Corbis-Fotosearch (2), Izaak Walton League of America/Olivia Dorothy (1), IStock (1), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1)

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