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


    This week, we’re celebrating the Clear Water Act’s 50th birthday—and half a century of defending America’s waters. It’s onerous to overstate how essential 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 essential—guaranteeing 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 longer term.

    It’s simple to take the Clear Water Act as a right, so let’s take a look at what it really does for folks and birds.

    Along with empowering federal businesses just like the U.S. Environmental Safety Company to control 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 fowl 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 plenty of extra birds, fish, and wildlife. These waterways additionally filter air pollution and supply ingesting water for greater than 117 million People or about 33 % 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 on the water itself, however on your complete areas alongside rivers, streams, shorelines, water in depressions within the panorama, the soil, in addition to the fish, bugs, and vegetation throughout your complete watershed. To supply this essential useful resource for birds, floor waters will need to have sufficient stream and be the suitable depth for the feeding or resting behaviors of varied fowl species. Wetlands and streams have to be allowed to flood or be inundated with water at applicable intervals, whether or not common, intermittent, or seasonal, so as to restore water ranges, replenish helpful vitamins within the soil, and help essential vegetation. Clear, accessible water is significant to birds for fish, insect and plant meals sources, wholesome breeding habitats, sufficient safety from predators, and obligatory resting factors throughout migration, nesting, and elevating their younger.

    Wetlands particularly are essential for fowl well being and inhabitants stability. Roughly one-third of North American fowl species, together with the Nice Blue Heron and Brown Pelican, use wetlands for meals, shelter, or breeding. Some 138 and subspecies of birds in the USA are designated as “wetland dependent.” These birds embody cranes, grebes, herons, kingfishers, loons, owls, perching birds, pelicans, shorebirds, falcons, and waterfowl. This record contains 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 plenty of different species rely on wetlands of many varieties in each area of the nation.

    In keeping with the most recent State of the Birds Report, a long time of funding in wetlands are producing a constructive development 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 packages. Regardless of the entire superb benefits of the Act and the way it has cleaned our waterways over time, it has confronted challenges over time and continues to return below risk from courts and politicians with an especially slim view of the Clear Water Act. Over the previous few years, the authorized definition of which streams could be regulated left many waterways with out the correct protections. Which means wetlands all through the nation are prone to unchecked growth, threatening communities and birds who rely on these assets for clear water.

    Fortunately, robust coalitions exist that proceed to champion the Clear Water Act and the protections it offers for birds and other people. Audubon is proud to hitch with our conservation, recreation, enterprise, and different companions to help the Act and strengthen it by 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 defend our water, air, land, and wildlife.