When anglers think of steelhead water, we tend to think of big, muscular rivers like the Skagit, Umpqua and Eel. We don’t usually think of tributary streams small enough to step across, or even that go dry at times.
We should. Such streams are very important for steelhead, particularly for spawning and rearing. In California, for example, 64 percent of stream miles that comprise steelhead habitat are intermittent or ephemeral.
This is why all steelhead anglers should be deeply concerned about the announcement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving ahead with a process of rescinding and replacing the so-called Clean Water Rule of 2015.
The 2015 Rule clarified that water quality protections under the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act apply to headwaters and small tributary streams, in addition to mainstem rivers. The Trump Administration intends to issue a new rule that leaves such waters highly vulnerable to degradation and pollution. Providing less protection for America’s headwater streams and wetlands, and allowing them to be more vulnerable to pipelines, gas development, and other forms of development, makes no sense.
We have lost so much wild steelhead habitat over the years, to dams, development, and diminished water quality. We can’t afford to lose any more to short-sighted policy. Clean water is not a political issue. Protecting our watersheds and ensuring that clean, fresh water is available for fish, farms and communities is not an option – it is a responsibility.
Please take a moment to express your opposition to EPA’s proposal to rescind the Clean Water Rule and your support for protecting water quality in vital steelhead habitat. In a very busy year, this is one of the most important actions we are asking you to take.