Big Creek Lake and other waterways key to summer fun

For Immediate Release

For Immediate Release: September 4, 2014

Des Moines, Iowa – With 397, 088 fishing licenses, tags, and permits, as well as 223,228 registered boats in Iowa alone, it’s no wonder that Big Creek Lake and Saylorville Lake are popular summer destinations. Nearly 11.5 million people visit state parks with waterways in the summertime, according to Environment Iowa’s new Summer Fun Index. The new fact sheet comes as summer draws to close, and as officials consider a new rule to restore protections for 62% of the state’s rivers and streams.

"We all know that our waterways are valuable for swimming, boating, fishing, and fun with friends and family, said Nathan Malachowski, a Des Moines based Campaign Organizer with Environment Iowa. “The Summer Fun Index quantifies this value, and demonstrates why our waterways deserve the highest protections under the Clean Water Act."

According to the index, not only are fishing and boating popular activities, but summer camps are popular destinations for younger Iowans who want to enjoy the water. Seven summer camps across the state offer water related recreation activities, including canoeing, boating, and fishing. Additionally, 66 of Iowa’s State Parks feature waterways, improving access for Iowans in all corners of the state.

Despite their popularity, more than 44,000 miles of Iowa’s rivers and streams are not guaranteed protection under the nation’s Clean Water Act, thanks to a loophole in the law secured by developers and other polluters nearly a decade ago.

In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to restore protections for the headwaters, streams, and wetlands left in limbo by the loophole. But agribusinesses, oil companies, and their champions in Congress others are campaigning heavily against it. Next week the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill, HR 5078, that would block the rule.

The EPA is taking public comments on the measure through the fall. Environment Iowa is working to gather hundreds of public comments, as well as demonstrate the support of outdoor businesses and watershed organizations. Through the Summer Fun Index, Environment Iowa points to the stats on how much people use and enjoy Iowa’s waterways to show the need for the EPA’s proposed rule.