Langevin, Courtney Legislation to Restore and Protect South County Rivers

Nov 7, 2011 Issues: Energy & Environment

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) took a key step today toward making federal restoration and conservation resources available to the Pawcatuck River, as well as other South County and southeast Connecticut streams, by introducing legislation that allows qualifying areas to receive special status. The Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act, which Langevin authored with Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT), mandates a study on the “wild and scenic” values of the rivers to evaluate which portions provide extraordinary natural, cultural and recreational benefits that require special attention to maintain. These segments would then be designated as eligible for existing federal funds.
 
“We are fortunate in Rhode Island to enjoy wonderful natural resources that greatly enhance our quality of life,” said Langevin. “They are sites for recreational activities, homes to abundant fish and wildlife, and historical and cultural attractions, all of which have the added benefit of boosting our economy through increased tourism and business opportunities. However, we cannot take these benefits for granted and in the case of the rivers affected by this legislation, we also know the importance of protecting our watersheds to mitigate the impact of flooding. I am committed to maximizing financial support for our finite freshwater streams and fulfilling our responsibility to ensure present and future generations can continue to enjoy all that they have to offer.”

“These rivers are cherished places to paddle and fish,” said Courtney. “The official recognition of these values will provide much needed funding to secure access, protect river corridors, and restore degraded habitats. We are proud of our beaches and waterways in Connecticut, and this legislation will ensure that they are preserved for generations to come.”
 
Passage of the bill would allow a committee made up of The Nature Conservancy’s Rhode Island Chapter, the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association and Save the Bay to proceed with an evaluation of which parts should fit into a special classification. In addition to providing for better upkeep of those areas, the designation would prevent federal support for actions that would harm the rivers’ free-flowing condition, water quality, or outstanding resource values.
 
“The Pawcatuck River is a critically important ecological and economic asset to the state of Rhode Island,” said Terry Sullivan, State Director of The Nature Conservancy. “The proposed Wild and Scenic designation would serve to recognize this and help to bring greater attention and resources to efforts to protect and restore the health of the river.  The Nature Conservancy appreciates Congressman Langevin’s leadership in putting this legislation forward.”
 
As noted by the Watershed Association on its website, “the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed encompasses a 300 square mile area of land in southern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut. Its seven major drainage basins include the Queen, Wood, Chickasheen, Chipuxet, Shunock, Green Falls, and Pawcatuck Rivers, and their tributaries. It is one of the few remaining relatively pristine natural areas along the northeast corridor between New York and Boston. The Nature Conservancy has identified the borderlands between Rhode Island and Connecticut as containing the last large forested area south of Boston.
 
“The Pawcatuck watershed offers unlimited recreational opportunities: 57 miles of rivers, mostly flat-water paddling on the rivers; numerous streams in pristine forest for fishing native brook trout and stocked brown and rainbow trout; and five state management areas for hiking, biking, hunting, birding and natures studies.”
 
For more information, visit the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association’s website at www.wpwa.org