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Wood-Pawtucket Watershed Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LANGEVIN. I want to thank the gentleman for yielding.

I would like to thank Ranking Member Grijalva and Chairman Bishop and their staffs for working to bring this bill to the committee and to the floor today. I would like to thank my good friend, Congressman Courtney of Connecticut, who has been an outstanding partner in this effort. I would also like to thank all of those back in Rhode Island who have worked to bring this bill to fruition, including the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association, Save the Bay, The Nature Conservancy, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

Mr. Speaker, the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act proposes 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, so I hope the passage and completion of this study will affirm what we who live near these rivers already know, which is that they possess outstanding recreational, natural, and historical qualities that make them worthy of the designation of ``Wild and Scenic Rivers.''

As a nation, we are privileged to have access to a diverse system of wilderness areas, not only in the remote expanses of our country but also close to home--in our backyard wilderness. The rivers of the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed are within a 45-minute drive for every Rhode Islander, easily accessible for family outings and school field trips. 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.

These rivers are not only an important part of our national heritage; they are a critical part of our economy, which relies on the health of our waters. The Wood-Pawcatuck watershed offers diverse destinations for tourism, which is a vital industry to Rhode Island and Connecticut, and these rivers offer exceptional trout fishing, canoeing, photography, and bird watching opportunities, with adjacent hiking and camping our for sportsmen. Accordingly, the study will not only review the special character of the river, but it will fully engage with local government, landowners, and businesses to recognize the existing commercial and recreational activities on or adjacent to the watershed.

With that, Mr. Speaker, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act offers the best guarantee that the Wood-Pawcatuck will be here for future generations to enjoy. The 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. I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.

Again, I want to thank the members of the committee, especially the chair and the ranking member, for bringing the bill to the floor, and I thank Mr. Hastings and also Mr. Sablan for their assistance with this as well.


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