Despite the highly charged partisan atmosphere in Congress, the U.S. House today unanimously passed a bill written by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree that could pave the way to a special federal designation for the York River.
"The support for this bill in the community has been widespread so I'm glad my colleagues in the House could give it their unanimous support," Pingree said. "The York River is an economic and ecological asset to the area and this legislation could help protect and preserve it."
Pingree's bill calls for a multi-year study of the York River. The study, in conjunction with community input, would determine if the river is eligible for designation as a Wild and Scenic Partnership River by the National Park Service.
"I have heard from small business owners, community groups, state and local government representatives, local and national land trusts, hunters, fishermen, schoolrepresentatives, and historical and environmental conservationists, and allagree that continuing to benefit from the river depends on recognizing and protecting its important and unique qualities," Pingree said on the House floor today.
Pingree said she's heard from scores of local residents who have talked about economic and environmental value of the river.
Pingree heard from Sarah Newick of York said "I have spent more than 50 years observing and enjoying the York River--rowing, sailing, powerboating, clamming, fishing, swimming, lobstering. The York River is a treasure."
Arthur Colson, a hunter who lives in Eliot, Maine said "I feel it is very important to preserve this area for not just hunting but for birds also that use the river for hatching and feeding."
"Getting that designation could mean significant federal investment in protecting the York River," Pingree said. "The river has incredible economic and environmental value to York, Eliot, Kittery, South Berwick and the surrounding communities, and this kind of federal investment will help ensure that value is preserved."
If, based on the study and community support, the York River is designated as a Wild and Scenic Partnership River, it makes it more likely that federal funding will come to the area for activities like preserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitat, for example.