The Work Continues on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

Dear Members of the American Fisheries Society Family,

Fifty years ago, in the backyard of the American Fisheries Society’s (AFS), the Potomac River was filled with so much sewage it filled the air with a putrid, vile stench. Ohio’s polluted Cuyahoga River caught fire for the 13th time spurring an environmental revolution in the United States. As a result, Congress passed the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972.

Yet on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers finalized a new definition of the “Waters of the United States (WOTUS)” gutting the Clean Water Act by removing federal protection for millions of stream miles and acres of wetlands that keep waters and watersheds healthy. The rule threatens critical headwater and wetland ecosystem services, like water quality protection, aquifer recharge, organic material transport, safeguarding habitats for endangered species, and support for recreational and commercial fishing economies.

“The published science demonstrates that the loss of protections for our nation’s most vulnerable waters will have far-reaching implications for fish, wildlife, and their habitats,” said American Fisheries Society Executive Director Doug Austen, PhD.

Over the last few years, with the hard work of our members, AFS and our partners have been working to ensure that the redefinition of WOTUS is consistent with the best-available science. We’ve developed reports detailing the impacts of a narrower rule, submitted regulatory comments to the EPA and the Corps, conducted Capitol Hill briefings, shared information with members of Congress and their staff, and joined other aquatic science societies in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. Advocating for science-based policy is one of the many critical programs managed by AFS.

In the midst of today’s uncertainty, rest assured that for us the work continues. AFS intends to continue to fight for clean water so critically important for healthy fish and healthy humans. We do this work with your guidance, science, and support. Your contributions permit us carry on this work. Right now, we need your help.

The conservation and stewardship of the world’s environment and natural resources is a cause worth championing. As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, during the 150th Anniversary of the American Fisheries Society, we ask you to continue to do the work with us.

You can help AFS by donating what you can to help support programs in the areas of policy and education; renew your membership; join the society for the first time or encourage a friend; or all of the above.

Thank you for your commitment and support.

Drue Banta Winters, JD