For every angler who plucked their first trout from a black-bottomed beaver pond high in the Rockies under the watchful eye of a father or a grandfather, this day is for you. For every fisherman or fisherwoman whose first bluegill came to hand after it pulled a bobber under water on some lonely little stream shaded by sweet gum trees, this day is for you, too.
This is the day your water—your sacred, special water—regained the protections it deserves. Thanks to a thoughtful and carefully crafted new clean water rule, America’s headwater streams are once again protected under the Clean Water Act.
What does this mean? It’s simple, really. Anyone who wants to dredge a small stream in the Appalachians, or run a road crossing through a creek in the Cascades or divert a small stream in the Rockies will have to apply for a permit to do it. It’s common sense, really. These small waters—these so-called Waters of the United States—are the genesis of America’s great rivers and home to vital spawning and rearing habitat for our country’s wild and native fish. They trickle down the mountains as snowmelt, rainwater and spring seeps, and they end up far downstream, where they’re used to water our crops, cool our industrial generators … or supply our communities with fresh, clean drinking water.