Legislation Introduced to Protect the Perquinmans River
New Bill Could Give Perquimans River Wild and Scenic ProtectionNovember 15th, 2007
Garrett Russo, American Rivers, (202) 423-9494
Jamie Mierau, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550
Washington, D.C.— The Perquimans River, an ecological wonder in Northeastern North Carolina, is one step closer to being preserved forever, thanks to legislation introduced today by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC). If passed the legislation would direct the National Park Service to study the river for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic River System, the first step in the process of protecting it under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
“From paddling, to fishing, to camping, the Perquimans River is a regional hub for recreational activity,” says Peter Raabe, Director of the North Carolina field office for American Rivers. “By taking the steps to protect it forever, Senators Burr and Dole are giving a wonderful gift to the people of North Carolina just in time for the holiday season.”
Companion legislation was introduced in the House earlier this year by Congressman G.K Butterfield (D-NC). Seven members of the North Carolina congressional delegation have already signed on to co-sponsor the bill (H.R. 3139).
The river, and the land surrounding it, is known for its rich biodiversity, unique history, and scenic beauty. The bald cypress trees along the banks are home to numerous bald eagles, while its waters house everything from catfish, to striped mouth bass, to blue crabs.
Americans have been enjoying the Perquimans River long before there even was a United States. In addition to a rich history of Native American settlement, the Town of Hertford on the river’s banks was one of the first European Settlements in North Carolina. The river was also used as a vital trading route up through the Civil War.
“By taking the required steps to preserve the river just as it is, these Senators are helping assure that this vital part of American history can be enjoyed for the rest of American history,” adds Raabe.
About The Wild & Scenic Rivers
The National Wild and Scenic system covers 11,358 river miles, which is just over one-quarter of one percent of the nation’s rivers. By comparison, an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 dams across the country have impounded more than 600,000 miles, or at least 17 percent of our rivers.
To be eligible for wild and scenic river designation, a river must be free-flowing and have at least one outstanding resource value recreation, scenery, wildlife and fish habitat, history, geology, 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 resource values for which a river was designated, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act affords a river legal protection from adverse development impacts. The Act:
- 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.
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.