Take Action

1. Financial Sustainability bill

Moved from Colorado House to Senate Finance Committee on May 4 and lost in that Committee on a 5-3 vote. For information see the first item of News on the Homepage.  Now that the bill has been killed, our next opportunity is to prepare for next year.  Contact your Senator and let him/her know you support increased funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  In addition, please state that you support CPW keeping this essential tool: the ability to acquire lands and water in fee title when necessary -- CPW has used this tool sparingly and it should be not be removed by this bill. There are effective checks and balances to ensure this tool is not abused. 

2. Celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day each year on 3rd Saturday in May -this year May 20 

SB16-21 passed last year, and Governor signed this bill that created Colorado public lands day annually on the 3rd Saturday of each May.   Coloradans value our public lands and they should be celebrated!  

 

3. South Park Master Leasing Planning

 BLM issued preliminary alternatives in March for managing these public lands that it manages in South Park.   To read CWF's comment letter, go to Our Stand on the home page. Give us a call or send us an email if you wish to discuss. Stay tuned.

 

 

4  Now that Scott Pruitt has been confirmed to head EPA, we must be vigilant

CWF IS COMMMITTED TO MANAGEMENT THAT IS BASED UPON SOUND SCIENCE.  As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued to block protections for wetlands and headwater streams that were based upon more than 1,200 peer reviews by scientists. 

Re Final Rule under Clean Water Act - issued by EPA on May 27, 2016 -- now we are waiting outcome of litigation in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ... and will urge EPA and Congress to keep the rule intact.

The Rule clarifies that headwater streams and adjacent wetlands are covered under the Clean Water Act. This is very important because headwater streams are indispensable for providing water for public drinking supplies, irrigation, livestock, industry, and fish and wildlife resources. Our mountain streams are the starting point for several major river systems, including the Colorado, Arkansas, Rio Grande, and Platte Rivers. Destruction or pollution of streams, even if they only flow seasonally, can cause major downstream impacts. It is important to note that the proposed rule keeps or expands exemptions and exclusions for farming, forestry, and ranching.  

We have thanked Senator Bennet for his effective opposition to bills this year that would have scrapped the rule. Now we are awating the outcome of litigation. 

See also this OpEd in the Denver Post written on June 12 by Tim Mauck, Clear County Commissioner and Dan Gibbs, Summit County Commissioner:

www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_28301632/guest-commentary-lets-protect-source-our-clean-water

Streams, tributaries and wetlands (near streams and rivers) protected by this ruling supply drinking water to more than one-third of all Americans, trap floodwaters, remove pollution and provide fish and wildlife habitat. The rule does not apply to groundwater, land man-made ditches, ponds and irrigation systems. The rule preserves CWA exclusions for agriculture and will also provide agricultural exemptions for 53 conservation practices, and will in no way change current permitting requirements.

 

Earlier:

The Science Advisory Board's (SAB) review of the science regarding the proposed rule has been a very deliberative process during the last year.   This Peer Review Report of the EPA Connectivity Report is the culmination of many months of public review and revisions by a panel of more than 20 wetland and stream science experts.  The SAB found that the avaialble science provides an adequate scientific basis for key components of the proposed rule.  It supports EPA's proposal to include adjacent waters and wetlands as "waters of the US." This is because adjacent waters and wetlands have a strong influence on the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of navigable waters.  In addition, the SAB advises EPA that adjacent waters and wetlands should not be defined solely on the basis of geographical proximity or distance to jurisdictional waters. Here is the link to this Report dated August 11, 2014: 

http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/ea5d9a9b55cc319285256cbd005a472e/212bb1480331835285257d350041a1c0/$FILE/SAB%20Connectivity%20Panel%20Draft%20Report_8_11_14_(quality%20review%20draft).pdf

On September 26 the SAB held a publicly noticed "quality review" meeting on the SAB Peer Review Report of the EPA Connectivity Report. The next step is that the final SAB peer review of this report is due out during the week of October 21. 

The public comment period for the proposed rule was extended again until November 14, and the EPA expects to finalize the rule in 2015.  

To read the proposed rule, click here to head to the EPA website.

The following comment letter was submitted by CWF:

November 12, 2014

 

Ms. Donna Dowling

EPA Office of Water 4502-T

1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington DC 20460

 

Ms. Stacy Jensen

Regulatory Community of Practice (CECW-CO-R)

US Army Corps of Engineers

441 G. St., NW

Washington DC  20314

 

Re: EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880

Transmitted via email to ow-docket@epa.gov

 Dear Ms. Dowling and Ms. Jensen:

Colorado Wildlife Federation (CWF) strongly supports finalizing the proposed rule, clarifying that headwater streams and adjacent wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Our members and supporters consist of anglers, hunters, and wildlife viewers. We view this proposed rule as essential because Colorado’s streams are indispensable for providing water for public drinking supplies, irrigation, livestock, industry, outdoor recreation, and fish and wildlife resources.   Headwater streams also provide important spawning and rearing habitat for fish and significantly contribute to the water quality downstream. Waterfowl in Colorado rely on wetlands for breeding and during migration.  Colorado’s small streams experience the stresses brought by increased summer temperatures during low flows, rapid melting of snowpack in particular years, drought and other disruptions.

EPA estimates that 52 percent of Colorado’s streams have no other streams flowing into them. According to the Colorado Water Quality Control Division’s Assessment, 68 percent do not flow year-round. That is, of Colorado’s 95,537 miles of streams and rivers, only about 28,0000 miles flow perennially.

Under varying interpretations of the SWANCC and Rapanos Supreme Court decisions, these smaller water bodies are among those for which the extent of Clean Water Act protections has been questioned.  According to EPA data, 3,772,743 people in Colorado receive some of their drinking water from areas containing these small perennial, intermittent and ephemeral streams, and that at least 77 facilities located on such streams currently have permits under the federal law regulating their pollution discharges.  

In February 2010 CWF board member and former board chair, Dennis Buechler, a wetlands expert formerly employed by US Fish and Wildlife, authored a report, “Five Case Studies on the Effects of the SWANCC and Rapanos Supreme Court Rulings on Colorado Wetlands and Streams.”  He noted that in Colorado, “over 3.7 million people receive their drinking water from public drinking water supplies that rely in whole or in part on intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams at risk of losing CWA protections.…”  The proposed rule would clear up this dire possibility.  In the counties where the case studies on the report are located, many Denver-metro area residents receive their drinking water from supplies that rely on these small streams.  In fact, in these counties, 40 to 60 percent of the stream miles feeding these drinking water supplies would continue to be at risk without protections from pollution under the proposed rule.

CWF appreciates the Science Advisory Board's (SAB) review of the science regarding the proposed rule.  It was a very deliberative process.  We were pleased that the SAB found the available science provides an adequate scientific basis for key components of the proposed rule and supports inclusion of adjacent waters and wetlands as "waters of the US." In addition, we support the SAB’s recommendation that adjacent waters and wetlands should not be defined solely on the basis of geographical proximity or distance to jurisdictional waters.   CWF also urges that important playas, such as those in the South Park area, be aggregated to allow inclusion in the rule as having a significant nexus.  

We appreciate the opportunity to comment on this very important proposed rule.  In our view, without this proposed rule, Colorado’s mountain streams and adjacent wetlands face unnecessary risk of becoming degraded or polluted in the future as our state continues to grow.  CWF urges that your agencies finalize this rule within a year. 

Sincerely,

Suzanne O’Neill

Executive Director

Colorado Wildlife Federation

 

 

 

 

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