The Clear Water Act at 50 and What it Means for Birds

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This week, we’re celebrating the Clear Water Act’s 50th birthday—and half a century of defending America’s waters. It’s arduous to overstate how important this laws was and is in lowering the quantity of air pollution flowing into our rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. Right here at Audubon, we all know birds and communities want entry to wash water, which is why this bipartisan laws is so important—making certain clear and considerable water in rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, and marshes in landscapes the place that is paramount to birds’ survival. And meaning defending the Clear Water Act now and into the long run.

It’s straightforward to take the Clear Water Act with no consideration, so let’s take a look at what it truly does for folks and birds.

Along with empowering federal companies just like the U.S. Environmental Safety Company to manage the quantities of air pollution flowing straight into streams and waterways, the Act protects small streams, wetlands and intermittent streams which can be hotspots for chook life and important to making sure water high quality in downstream rivers and bigger water our bodies. Wetlands cowl roughly 110 million acres within the continental United States and are indispensable habitat for lots of of species of birds, together with the Bald Eagle, Wooden Stork, Northern Pintail, American Bittern, Semipalmated Plover, Prothonotary Warbler, and lots of extra birds, fish, and wildlife. These waterways additionally filter air pollution and supply consuming water for greater than 117 million Individuals or about 33 p.c of the nation.

Birds require the clear water and thriving ecosystems present in and round wholesome water our bodies to outlive. They don’t simply rely upon the water itself, however on the whole areas alongside rivers, streams, shorelines, water in depressions within the panorama, the soil, in addition to the fish, bugs, and crops throughout the whole watershed. To supply this vital useful resource for birds, floor waters will need to have satisfactory circulation and be the suitable depth for the feeding or resting behaviors of assorted chook species. Wetlands and streams have to be allowed to flood or be inundated with water at acceptable intervals, whether or not common, intermittent, or seasonal, with a purpose to restore water ranges, replenish helpful vitamins within the soil, and assist important vegetation. Clear, accessible water is significant to birds for fish, insect and plant meals sources, wholesome breeding habitats, satisfactory safety from predators, and crucial resting factors throughout migration, nesting, and elevating their younger.

Wetlands particularly are important for chook well being and inhabitants stability. Roughly one-third of North American chook species, together with the Nice Blue Heron and Brown Pelican, use wetlands for meals, shelter, or breeding. Some 138 and subspecies of birds in america are designated as “wetland dependent.” These birds embody cranes, grebes, herons, kingfishers, loons, owls, perching birds, pelicans, shorebirds, falcons, and waterfowl. This listing consists of 27 kinds of geese, from the Wooden Duck to the Blue-Winged Teal, 20 kinds of gulls and terns, 17 kinds of herons, seven kinds of Warblers, egrets, bitterns, and lots of different species rely upon wetlands of many sorts in each area of the nation.

In accordance with the most recent State of the Birds Report, many years of funding in wetlands are producing a optimistic pattern for waterbirds, geese, and diving birds. A lot of this success is because of impactful coverage measures that complement the Clear Water Act, just like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and U.S. Farm Invoice conservation applications. Regardless of all the wonderful benefits of the Act and the way it has cleaned our waterways over time, it has confronted challenges over time and continues to come back beneath risk from courts and politicians with a particularly slender view of the Clear Water Act. Over the previous few years, the authorized definition of which streams may be regulated left many waterways with out the right protections. Because of this wetlands all through the nation are prone to unchecked improvement, threatening communities and birds who rely upon these sources for clear water.

Fortunately, robust coalitions exist that proceed to champion the Clear Water Act and the protections it gives for birds and other people. Audubon is proud to hitch with our conservation, recreation, enterprise, and different companions to assist the Act and strengthen it by way of sound science, coverage, and advocacy.

Birds are telling us that we have to do extra to make sure their survival—and ours. Over the following 50 years, Audubon will proceed championing the federal legal guidelines that shield our water, air, land, and wildlife.

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