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Archive for February, 2010

New report shows state’s streams and wetlands endangered

A new report highlights threats to Colorado’s waters and wetlands under regulatory guidance resulting from two Supreme Court Cases. Compiled by the National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and Trout Unlimited, the report identifies five cases where the loss of Clean Water Act protections has put Colorado waters at risk for pollution, unrestricted drainage and destruction.

“Without these protections, Colorado’s limited and precious aquatic resources are at further risk,” said Dennis Buechler, Director Emeritus of the Colorado Wildlife Federation and the author of the report. “In some instances where protections have been removed completely, the state of law has caused unnecessary confusion.”

An example of this confusion is the case of Hidden Lake – an 88 acre lake in Westminster, Colorado – that had its Clean Water Act protections removed because it supposedly does not have a surface connection to waters covered by the CWA. The lake boasts an excellent smallmouth bass fishery, and is used by local residents for recreation such as swimming and boating. After the City of Westminster protested, protections were restored. But protections were removed for more than half a decade.

“There are examples of threatened waters and wetlands all over the state,” said Jim Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation. Colorado streams and wetlands provide habitat and benefits to more than 75 percent of the state’s wildlife and waterfowl.

“Sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts spend billions of dollars in Colorado to hunt and fish for species that depend on these waters and wetlands that are threatened,” said David Nickum, Executive Director of Colorado Trout Unlimited.

This report provides an overview of the waters at risk in Colorado and documents cases in Colorado where important waterways have lost basic federal pollution protections or been placed at risk because of the confused state of the law. Included among these waters are wetlands that feed tributaries of the South Platte River, Hidden Lake and its associated wetlands, the playa wetlands in northeastern Colorado, and other waters under siege from development. It is almost certain that these waters would have been protected prior to the 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court decisions that weakened the Clean Water Act.

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Aileo Weinmann weinmanna@nwf.org 202.797.6801

Neil Shader nshader@ducks.org 202.347.1530

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