Washington, DC -- A bill to study the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers for potential designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers passed the House this evening with bi-partisan support, putting the rivers one step closer to permanent protection in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Located in northwest Vermont, the rivers are important sources of clean water, and are part of the lifeblood of Vermont's natural and cultural heritage. They are bordered by the largest, and perhaps the highest-quality, silver maple floodplain forest remaining in the state. The Missisquoi and Trout rivers are home to diverse animal life including brook trout, rare freshwater mussels and spiny soft-shell turtles. The marshes surrounding the rivers host migratory birds including great blue herons and black terns. A special economic asset, the Missisquoi River attracts tourism with numerous recreational opportunities as a part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
The bill (H.R. 3667), would designate 50 miles of the Missisquoi River and approximately 20 miles of the Trout River for a study to be conducted by the National Park Service. Currently, Vermont does not have any Wild and Scenic Rivers.
"Representative Welch should be commended for his hard work to move this bill that will bring the river's communities together to consider permanent protection," said David Moryc, Director of River Protection for American Rivers. "As the Missisquoi and Trout rivers flow through a landscape of forests, meadows, and family-run dairy farms, they weave together Vermont's natural and cultural heritage. These rivers are worthy candidates for Wild and Scenic River consideration."
About Wild and Scenic Rivers
This year, 2008, marks the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System includes more than 165 of the nation's most outstanding rivers. Oregon leads the nation with 49 rivers designated, while Alaska boasts a stunning 3,210 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers. The Missouri River explored by Lewis and Clark, the Delaware River that cradled the American Revolution, and the Tuolumne River loved by John Muir are all protected by this visionary law.
More than 3,400 rivers across the country meet the Wild and Scenic criteria, and yet remain unprotected.
To be eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation, a river must be free-flowing and have at least one outstanding value, such as recreation, scenery, wildlife, history, or other similar values. Rivers may be added to the system by an act of Congress. Or, if a river is protected through a state program, it may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior upon official request by the governor.
To protect and enhance the values for which a river is designated, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act affords a river legal protection from adverse development impacts.
* Forbids the construction of new federally licensed dams
* Limits inappropriate streamside development
* Protects the river's unique values
* Mandates the creation of a management plan for the Wild and Scenic river
There are three types of Wild and Scenic Rivers:
"Wild" rivers -- vestiges of primitive America "Scenic" rivers -- free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads "Recreational" rivers -- readily accessible by road or railroad, may have some development along their shorelines, and may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.