The Upper Missisquoi and Trout rivers in northern Vermont would be added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System under legislation introduced today by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).
The system managed by the Department of the Interior was established in 1968 to recognize and preserve rivers with remarkable scenic and recreational value. Today, 40 other states have rivers listed under the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The legislation was recommended by a committee created by Congress in 2009 to evaluate the rivers' potential for wild and scenic designation. The committee earlier this year unanimously recommended that the Upper Missisquoi and Trout rivers become Vermont's first in the Wild and Scenic System. The designation was supported at Town Meeting Day votes by Berkshire, Enosburg Falls, Enosburgh, Montgomery, North Troy, Richford, Troy and Westfield.
"We're excited about the introduction of this bill which, if passed, will recognize the gems that the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers really are," said Shana Stewart Deeds, study coordinator of the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Study Committee. "This bill comes out of the work and dedication of local community members and with the support of the eight municipalities which voted for designation at their town meetings. This Wild and Scenic status can help us promote the use of the rivers for recreation while not taking anything away from the landowners who make their homes and livings along the banks of these waters. We are looking forward to designation and thank Vermont's Congressional Delegation for introducing this bill."
Designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act will protect the natural, cultural and recreational qualities of the Upper Missisquoi and Trout rivers; enabling continued enjoyment of the rivers by fishermen, hunters and paddlers. It will also help maintain good water quality within the rivers, as well as in Lake Champlain, where the Missisquoi River flows into.