History tells us that the 1960s were turbulent times in America. While we often associate this turbulence with cultural conflicts, the condition of our waters was no less conflicted. Estimates from this time revealed that over 60% of our waters were unsafe for fishing and swimming. Untreated sewerage was often dumped into our rivers and coastal waters, and, in 1969, the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland, Ohio burned from what was suspected to be petroleum or its byproducts. Against this backdrop, Congress passed legislation in 1972 to reduce and prevent pollution from entering our waterways. The Clean Water Act was enacted to reduce pollution and protect health and habitat for all to enjoy – human and animal alike. 2012 is an auspicious year for those of us interested in water resources and wetland issues.
The Association of State Wetland Managers is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act by supporting and promoting the Wetlandkeepers campaign. Bridging the gap between wetland science and wetland policy, the Association’s Wetlandkeepers initiative cultivates and encourages a wetland ethic – much like Aldo Leopold’s concept of “land ethic” – designed to protect wetlands in a watershed context, to support wetland managers in their conservation and management goals, and to identify adaptive strategies to mitigate the effects of sea level rise on wetland resources. Our work did not begin, nor does it end, here.
During the past year, the Association has collaborated with the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) to publish a handbook for states and tribes on the requirements for Section 404 Assumption; continued to engage EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in policy issues and projects; collaborated with several federal agencies, states, and tribes to gather and analyze information on best practices that can be used in the development of water quality standards for wetlands; provided a forum for stakeholders to share information on Clean Water Act jurisdiction and guidance in light of several court cases; continued to support the Wetland Mapping Consortium; continued to work with policy makers, scientists, and citizens to develop fair and reasonable wetland policies that are underlain by good science; joined with other nonprofit and private organizations, government agencies and individuals to establish the Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance (NFFA); increased our capacity with an updated website; monitored, analyzed, and reported on state and federal legislation development; continued support at various levels on the effects of sea level rise and wetlands; and all the while continued to bring you – our members, stakeholders, colleagues and friends—our monthly e-zine Wetland Breaking News.
None of these accomplishments would be possible without the vision and tireless efforts of our dedicated staff. Led by Executive Director Jeanne Christie, the operational and financial health of the Association is very strong. As belts have tightened across all business, government, nonprofit, and industry sectors, Jeanne and the Association staff continue to produce quality workshops, complete important projects, collaborate across an array of public and private interests, and anticipate areas for needed work in the future. In 2011, the Association opened our Great Lakes Office in Michigan, and tapped the experience of former Michigan wetland manager and past Association chair, Peg Bostwick, to lead that office. It has been a busy year for the Association, and the year ahead is no less exciting.
As you peruse this report, remember that, since 1983, the Association of State Wetland Managers has strived to promote the application of sound science to wetland management efforts.
With kindest regards,
Dave Davis, Board Chair
For 2011 Annual Report, click here.