Sportsmen stand up for clean water

As a former Air Force officer, NRA member and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) Life Member, I find it troubling that one of the nation’s newest anti-hunting/angling outfits (the deceptively named “Environmental Policy Alliance,” a Washington, D.C.-based corporate front that won’t disclose where any of its funds come from) is attacking hunting and angling groups for supporting efforts to keep our nation’s waters clean.

Most recently, Will Coggin (Environmental Policy Alliance director) has concocted a robo-generated op-ed that’s been mass-submitted across the country regarding the “Waters of the U.S.” rule. Much of the content is innuendo, exaggerated or just false allegations. In fact, most every letter Coggin has crafted has been countered by letters from readers and volunteers on the ground who have done what newspapers have not: They’ve checked Coggin’s bona fides, and found him lacking any credibility.

{mosads}He’s particularly off base when it comes to clean water. “Clean water is not only important to our families and communities; it is the lifeblood of wetlands critical to migratory waterfowl and headwaters streams key to coldwater fisheries,” said BHA Executive Director Land Tawney. “These waters recharge our aquifers, filter pollution, reduce flooding and provide high quality habitat essential to fish and wildlife.”

Sean Clarkson, a BHA board member and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, hails the rule. “From little pothole marshes and headwater, high mountain streams all the way down to the James River, waters of the United States should be a very simple concept for people to understand.” Clarkson says, “Roughly two-thirds of the entire United States gets their drinking water from the surface. And I don’t know about you, but I prefer drinking water that’s clean.”

“From the wetlands of the prairie pothole region to the Boundary Waters, Minnesota is known for its great aquatic resources, which provide bountiful hunting and fishing opportunities, from waterfowl to abundant walleye, northern pike, bass, trout, salmon and panfish,” adds Erik Jensen, BHA Minnesota chapter co-chair. “The Minnesota chapter of BHA supports the new rule, as it protects these sporting opportunities while providing the clear guidance needed by farmers, developers and federal agencies.”

Regarding Coggin’s “Environmental Policy Alliance,” check out their website—you won’t find a shred of financial information, because it’s not really an “alliance”—it’s a façade for PR attack dogs trying to discredit real sportsmen, who know that without clean water and quality habitat there is no fishing or hunting opportunity.

And unlike Coggin’s EPA, groups like the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Trout Unlimited (TU) and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) don’t have any secrets when it comes to our funders—all of our financial information is available online for public consumption. Our annual reports and Form 990s are published openly on our websites for all to see.

Public lands and waters are what separate our nation from most of the rest of the world. We have places for everyday citizens to catch fish, pick berries, bird watch, hike peaks and hunt game. Our wildlife, wildlands and wild waters belong to the public; this was established early by our founding fathers and has been defended by sportsmen and women ever since

And we work collaboratively with all kinds of partners to develop and implement real solutions rather than posturing. That’s how things get done in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Mr. Coggin should try this formula, rather than taking shots from his fancy desk somewhere inside the Beltway at groups like TU, TRCP and BHA who have transparent accounting and a long record of benefitting sportsmen and women.

Lien is a former Air Force officer, NRA member and chairman of the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers ( He’s the author of “Hunting for Experience: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation” and during 2014 was recognized by Field & Stream as a “Hero of Conservation.”



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