Sportsmen’s groups take issue with wetlands bill

By Dave Golowenski

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch

A large number of sportsmen’s organizations voiced opposition to the Republican-backed United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week along party lines.

The bill would restrict the rule-making ability of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers in determining whether millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of headwater streams earn protection under the Clean Water Act.

The bill “is a vote against America’s sportsmen and women who depend on wetlands and headwater streams to provide the highest quality fishing and hunting opportunities,” said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited’s vice president of government affairs.

The waters in play, a Trout Unlimited statement said, include “seasonally flowing intermittent and ephemeral streams and certain ‘Isolated’ wetlands.” The prairie potholes, on which waterfowl, including ducks, depend for breeding, would lose federal protection under the House-passed bill.

The bill’s backers maintain federal authority should not extend to such waters.

Groups opposing the law, which President Barack Obama said he will veto if it passes the Senate, include the National Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, B.A.S.S., Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, The Berkley Conservation Institute, The International Federation of Fly Fishers, The Snook and Gamefish Foundation, The North American Grouse Partnership, the American Fisheries Society and the Izaak Walton League of America.