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Public Statements

Musconetcong Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to come to the floor today in support of our legislation, H.R. 1307, the Musconetcong Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. And I also commend the gentleman for his pronunciation of the Musconetcong River as well. It is not an easy river to designate.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the chairman, Chairman Pombo, and all of his staff from the Resources Committee for their help in bringing this bill forward. I appreciate all of their hard work and working along with our offices to that end. I would also like to extend my thanks as well to Majority Whip ROY BLUNT and the majority staff, and also the majority leader's office and his staff as well for helping us move things along and getting this legislation to the floor today.

The Musconetcong River is the largest New Jersey tributary to the Delaware River, which we are all familiar with. It is nestled in the heart of the New Jersey Highlands, and it contains a remarkably diverse array of natural and cultural resources. There are over 20 streams along the river, and they support wild trout populations and others. Residents can also enjoy the wonderful scenic views and plants and animal life that are now rare in other parts of New Jersey. The limestone geological features present in the Musconetcong River corridor are unique in the State of New Jersey. And the steep slopes and the forested regions in the upper segments of the river corridor contrast with the historic villages, the pastures, and the rolling agricultural lands that are in the middle and lower end of the valley.

Since the early 1990s, the residents of the river valley have been organizing, coming together to protect this cherished natural treasure, and so the bill before us today represents the works of many individuals over a 15-year period.

So I would like to take this moment to especially thank a couple of those individuals. I would like to thank Susan Dickey, who is chairwoman of the Musconetcong Advisory Committee; and also Beth Styler Barry, she is the executive director of the Musconetcong Watershed Association, for both of their tireless working in constructing this legislation and lobbying to help to get it along its way.

This bill does enjoy broad bipartisan support of all the entire New Jersey congressional delegation, 18 municipalities along the river, and also the National Park Service. Now, New Jersey already is the most densely populated State in the country, featuring growing exurbs which continue to put pressure on the remaining very small wild spaces in New Jersey. While this legislation will not freeze development in that area, it will work to preserve the existing character of the river, a character of true beauty and recreational enjoyment.

The Musconetcong River Management Plan called for in this legislation was developed cooperatively, and it calls for a management framework that acknowledges the importance and preferences for local leadership and the additional preferences and protections afforded by a national wild and scenic river designation. A key principle of the management framework as proposed in this plan is the existing institutions which will continue to play a primary role in the long-term protection of the Musconetcong River.

Again, I would like to thank the gentleman; I would like to thank the chairman for his support and the Speaker for bringing this bill to a vote. H.R. 1307 will ensure that the residents of New Jersey can continue to enjoy the Musconetcong River for its hiking, its canoeing, and fishing along into the future. And I also would like to invite the chairman, for his next backpack trip that he makes, to come and join us along the Musconetcong River in New Jersey.


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