There was a news event earlier this week that seemed to sail under the radar, but it's something to keep an eye on. A large coalition of groups has come together to lobby for the waters that flow through Everglades National Park, the parks and lakeshores that dot the Great Lakes and touch the Chesapeake Bay, as well as many other watery ecosystems across the country.
With representatives from the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Wildlife Federation, American Rivers, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Sierra Club, and dozens of other organizations that lobby on behalf of clean water and healthy ecosystems, the America's Great Waters Coalition touches nine of the largest watery ecosystems in 27 states. Among the other targeted waters are Coastal Louisiana, the Gulf of Maine, Long Island Sound, Mississippi River, Puget Sound, and the San Francisco/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. To see a map of these ecosystems, click here for a pdf map.
Backed by members of Congress, the coalition is pushing for action on cleaning up these ecosystems before it's too late.
Both the Great Lakes and the Everglades have been in the news of late, but for two decidedly opposite reasons. The Great Lakes is being threatened by an invasion of non-native Asian carp that hold the possibility of overwhelming the lakes' native fisheries, while the Everglades received a boost with the groundbreaking of the Tamiami Trail Bridge.
“Research has found that cleaning up the Great Lakes and its waterways—by improving water and sewer infrastructure, restoring and preserving wetlands and coastal habitats, and cleaning up toxic areas—would create jobs and inject billions of dollars into the regional economy,” Jennifer S. Vey, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said on Tuesday when the coalition held its coming out party. “This indicates that directing public investments toward improving the health of all of the nation’s Great Waters—from the Chesapeake to the San Francisco Bay—simply makes good economic sense.”
Of course, there are other problem areas. The Chesapeake Bay struggles with pollutants contained in runoff, lack of water threatens the Everglades, and sea-level rise and stronger storm surges tied to climate change are a threat to many coastal areas, whether they're along the Gulf Coast or the West Coast.
Those behind the coalition's efforts hope they will be able to leverage the "vast political support among citizens from across the nation."
“This unprecedented alliance is united in our call to protect, preserve and restore our nation’s great waters,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “It’s time to lift all boats and restore the waters that millions of people depend on for their health, jobs and way of life. Restoring America’s great waters will benefit the country’s economy and environment—and will be vital in addressing the impacts of global warming.”
Over at the NPCA, Theresa Pierno, executive vice president, said that by "(W)orking together with our elected officials, we can ensure our great waters are preserved and protected for our children and grandchildren. Restoring our great waters is essential to the health of our national parks, wildlife, and the economy.”