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Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, let me thank Congressman Grijalva, the
ranking member of the subcommittee, for yielding and for his outstanding work in support of this legislation. Let me also thank Chairman Hastings, as well as the chairman of the subcommittee, Mr. Bishop, and your hardworking staff for working to bring this bill through the committee and to the floor today.
I would also like to thank my good friend from Connecticut, Congressman Courtney, who has been an outstanding partner in this effort as well. And, of course, our State partners, including the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association, Save the Bay, the Nature Conservancy, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Their collaboration really has been instrumental in bringing this legislation to fruition.
As a Nation, we are, of course, privileged to have access to a diverse system of wilderness areas--from remote expanses of our country to backyard wildernesses closer to home. The Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed is such a place. Its rivers are within a 45-minute drive of every Rhode Islander, easily accessible for family outings and school field trips. Passage of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act will allow for a study of segments of the Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck Rivers in Rhode Island and Connecticut for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Rhode Island and Connecticut have long been outstanding stewards of these rivers, and I hope passage and completion of this study will affirm what we Rhode Islanders already know--that the Pawcatuck and its tributaries possess outstanding recreational, natural, and historical qualities that make them worthy of the designation of Wild and Scenic Rivers. The people of Rhode Island and Connecticut have long enjoyed the recreational and scenic wealth of the Wood-Pawcatuck, and we are eager to share this natural treasure with the rest of New England and the Nation.
The Wood-Pawcatuck watershed offers exceptional trout fishing, canoeing, photography, and bird watching, with adjacent hiking and camping for our sportsmen. These rivers are not only an important part of our national heritage, they are also a critical part of our tourism industry and the economy. Accordingly, the study will fully engage with local government, landowners, and businesses to recognize the existing commercial and recreational activities on or adjacent to the watershed.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act offers the best guarantee that the Wood-Pawcatuck will be here for future generations to enjoy, and passage of this study is an important first step along that path. The rivers of the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed contain outstanding recreational, scenic, and natural heritage qualities that would be an excellent addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.
Again, I want to thank all those involved in helping to bring this bill to the floor.
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