Taunton River Wild and Scenic Bill Passes House
Bi-partisan agreement to protect Massachusetts' fifth Wild and Scenic RiverJuly 17th, 2008
David Moryc, 202-347-7550
Amy Kober, 206-213-0330 x23
Washington, DC – A bill to designate the Taunton River as a Wild and Scenic River passed the House last night with bi-partisan support, putting the Taunton on track to become the fifth Wild and Scenic River in Massachusetts.
All ten communities along the river enthusiastically support the designation, which will safeguard the river’s outstanding values. The Taunton River, just 30 miles south of Boston, is rich in history and culture. The Taunton supports healthy populations of birds, fish and wildlife and the river boasts the largest herring run on the east coast. It is also a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking and bird-watching, and a well-loved spot for refuge and recreation in this densely populated area.
The bill (H.R. 415), designates 27 miles of the river as “recreational” and 26 miles as “scenic”. The other Wild and Scenic Rivers in Massachusetts are the Sudbury, Assabet, Concord, and Westfield rivers.
David Moryc, director of river protection for American Rivers, made the following statement:
“We applaud the hard work to protect the Taunton by the U.S. House and all ten communities along the river. These communities will benefit from the river’s recreation, scenery and heritage for years to come.”
“A Wild and Scenic River not only helps connect us with our past, but it’s a gift that we give to future generations. What better way for Congress to honor the 40th anniversary of this important law, than to extend Wild and Scenic protections to the Taunton and other deserving rivers.”
“Wild and Scenic designations aren’t just for remote wilderness rivers. Any river, like the Taunton, with special values can be eligible for Wild and Scenic protections. Whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural area, a Wild and Scenic designation can be a great tool for a community that wants to protect and enjoy the outstanding and unique qualities of its river.”
About Wild & 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. 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
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