Our policy piece tackles a pressing environmental issue: water protection. We examine the science and the law behind the recently finalized Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which removes protections for millions of miles of streams and acres of wetlands in the US. These streams and wetlands are vital ecosystems that both directly and indirectly provide a range of ecosystem services, including providing drinking water, reducing floods, and generating billions of dollars to the US economy. This new rule is based on questionable legal choices and is highly inconsistent with the best available science on water and watersheds, and in particular on how connections between waters are critical for their function. The result: a major rollback in environmental protections that has the potential to cause widespread and long-lasting harm to US waters.
For access to the full article, please see the Publications page.
See below for some of the media coverage on this:
A watershed moment for U.S. water quality
New Rule Threatens Environment, Puts U.S. Waters at Risk
Indigenous peoples that live in the area now known as the Northwestern US have relied on water resources for physical, cultural, and spiritual sustenance since time immemorial. Hunting, gathering, and fishing are central subsistence activities of the Couer d’Alene Tribe (Schitsu’umsh), whose homeland spanned ~3.5 million acres in present-day northern Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana. The Lake Couer d’Alene Basin was at the heart of their homeland. Today, the CdA Reservation is a fraction of that their homeland.
Having recently returned from over a month on the CdA Reservation – working with the CdA Tribe on issues related to water quantity and water rights – I have a renewed appreciation for the history of the CdA people, their intimate relationship with the landscape, and the role science can play in environmental-justice issues.
Working in an off-channel wetland.
Fish Weir on Stream
Fringing Wetland, Lake Couer d’Alene