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John R.
Democrat RI

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  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Jack Reed

    Posted on 2013-02-14

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    REED (for himself, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Whitehouse, and Mr. Murphy): S. 349. A bill to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate a segment of the Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck Rivers in the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island for study for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

    Mr. REED. Mr. President, today I am reintroducing, along with my colleagues Senators Blumenthal, Whitehouse, and Murphy legislation to authorize the National Park Service to evaluate portions of the Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck Rivers located in Rhode Island and Connecticut for possible inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Our legislation seeks to highlight the need for greater resources to protect and restore the health of these rivers by studying their recreational, natural, and historical qualities and determining if they are suitable for designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

    The Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed is a national treasure that holds recreational and scenic value. In the 1980s, the National Park Service's Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program conducted a planning and conservation study which found, in part, that the waters of the Wood and Pawcatuck Rivers corridor ``are the cleanest and purest and its recreational opportunities are unparalleled by any other river system in the state.'' The rivers also provide opportunities for recreation and tourism that contribute to the economy of the local communities, while offering ways to explore our American heritage throughout the watershed. The experiences one can enjoy range from visiting Native American fishing grounds to seeing Colonial and early industrial mill ruins. The rivers are also a prime location for outdoor activities like trout fishing, canoeing, bird watching, and hiking.

    I have long been a supporter of protecting and restoring Southern New England's riverways and estuaries, including the Narragansett Bay. The study proposed in our legislation is an important part of the process in determining future opportunities for protection and recreational enjoyment of the rivers in the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed. It would also help Rhode Island and Connecticut continue their stewardship of these rivers, and greatly enhance existing state and local efforts to preserve and manage this ecosystem.

    Indeed, partnerships are essential for the successful restoration and management of our natural resources, and it is anticipated that this study would be conducted in close cooperation with the communities, state agencies, local governments, and private organizations that are stakeholders in the process. The partnership-based approach also allows for development of a proposed river management plan, which could address issues ranging from fish passage to the restoration of wetlands to assist with flood mitigation, as well as balance the preservation of the natural resources with the recreational opportunities that contribute to the local economies.

    I commend Representatives Langevin, Cicilline, and Courtney for introducing similar legislation in the other body. I look forward to working with them and all of my colleagues to pass this bill to initiate the process that will evaluate the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN (for himself and Mr. Merkley): S. 352. A bill to provide for the designation of the Devil's Staircase Wilderness Area in the State of Oregon, to designate segments of Wasson and Franklin Creeks in the State of Oregon as wild rivers, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

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