New York, NY–From the Hudson River, to the Great Lakes, to San Francisco Bay, waterways across the country draw tens of millions of visitors each year, according to Environment America’s new state-by-state Summer Fun Index. The new fact sheets come as summer draws to close, and as officials consider a new rule to restore protections for more than half of the nation’s rivers and streams.
“From touring Niagra Falls, to fishing in one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, to sailing in San Francisco Bay, we all know clean water means summer fun,” said John Rumpler, Clean Water Program Director with Environment America. “Our new Summer Fun Index shows just how important it is to protect all our waters.”
To get a snapshot of how Americans use and enjoy their waterways, Environment America compiled stats from nine different states on everything from summer camps with rivers and lakes to fishing and boat licenses. The organization’s research found a whopping 9 million fishing licenses and more than 127 million visitors to state parks that feature waterways.
Despite their popularity, 2 million miles of rivers and streams and 20 million acres of wetlands across the country are not guaranteed protection under the nation’s Clean Water Act, thanks to a loophole in the law secured by developers and other polluters nearly a decade ago.
In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to restore protections for the headwaters, streams, and wetlands left in limbo by the loophole. But agribusinesses, oil companies, and their champions in Congress others are campaigning heavily against it. Next week the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill, HR 5078, that would block the rule.
EPA is taking public comments on the measure through the fall. Already, Environment America has gathered 160,000 public comments in favor of restoring Clean Water Act protections to all of the nation’s waters. Environment America pointed to the stats on how much people use and enjoy waterways across the country as further support for EPA’s proposed rule.
“Whether we enjoy them for fishing, boating, or swimming, we all have a stake in the health of our waterways,” said Rumpler. “We should be doing everything we can to protect all of our rivers, lakes and streams.”