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Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2569, the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That bill would designate those two rivers as Wild and Scenic.
We are pretty excited about this in northern Vermont. As has been said, any landowner along the way is going to give permission in order for it to be part of it. Also, before this even was brought to a legislative committee, town meetings in all of the towns along the designation area had discussions in their town halls and, at town meeting, voted and requested that this designation be given.
So what we have to show that there really is excitement about this in Vermont is a town vote, and then we have got it built into the legislation that the landowner who is directly affected has to give permission. So those are good safeguards, and as the chairman said, it means that there is no Federal coercion. It is a reflection of local desire. So thank you for that.
These rivers are really beautiful. I hope in your time off, Mr. Chairman, when you don't have the burden of this committee and this duty, you might come on up and take a look.
As Mr. Grijalva said, these rivers flow through beautiful farm fields and valley floors in northern Vermont. They go under covered bridges and through small villages on the way to Lake Champlain, and they have served in Vermont as important routes of early trade, sources of water and food for local farming communities, and sites for some of the best recreational opportunities in the country.
The community members just love these rivers. They enjoy the recreational activity they provide, especially canoeing and kayaking. There is a lot of fishing and hunting, swimming and hiking, wildlife viewing. It is a place where folks bring their kids, teach them how to swim, teach them about nature, teach them about fishing.
So they also connect up to a canoe trail that spans the entire northern New England States. Having that web of rivers that flow one to the other accessible is enhanced with this legislation.
The Wild and Scenic designation, as has been mentioned, would recognize that these waterways do have exceptional recreational value, something that local proponents have known since they undertook the designation process 5 years ago.
And the folks involved--it is local farmers, town leaders, river enthusiasts--they have all had to work together, and they have had to talk and knock on doors to the folks who own property along the river. As I mentioned, voters in eight towns within the designation area strongly affirm the plan for their towns' participation in the Wild and Scenic Rivers program.
This designation is Vermont-based and locally grown. It requires no Federal land acquisition or management. It relies on those local and State and regional partnerships.
I want to thank the folks who have helped Mr. Bishop, the chair of the subcommittee. Thank you so much for your work on this and for putting up with my pestering requests. Ranking Member DeFazio, thank you very much for hanging in there. Mr. Grijalva, thank you.
But I also want to especially thank, on behalf of the State of Vermont, the citizens of Berkshire, Enosburg, Enosburg Falls, Montgomery, Richford, Troy, North Troy, and Westfield. They worked hard in this, and it means a lot to them.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I hope I am not violating any rule of the House, but I want to say something personal about the man from Washington, my former colleague on the Rules Committee. I am going to accuse him of being a good guy. He worked hard on the Rules Committee when I was there. He worked hard in his responsibility as chairman of this committee.
You have worked hard for many years serving the people of your district and the people of this country
over all your years in Congress, and I want to thank you that one of your last acts is a generous shepherding of this legislation that means so much to the folks in northern Vermont.
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