Wild and Scenic River Study
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WPWA Announces Formation of Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Wild and Scenic Rivers Study
Sept. 18, 2015 WPWA is working with the National Parks Service to form a Wild and Scenic Rivers Study Committee. Committe members will include representatives from all fourteen towns in the watershed, RI Department of Environmental Management, CT Department of Energy and Envrionmental Protection, Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Associaiton, Save the Bay, and The Nature Conservancy. The first meeting will be held at the WPWA campus on Thursday, November 5, 2015.
The Study Committee will be charged with identifying the Outstandingly Remarkable Values that make the Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck Rivers so special. At the same time they will develop a management plan to protect those values. Town support will be critical in producing a plan that benefits the rivers and the community.
December 12, 2014
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act Passes!
The Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association (WPWA) and its partners, The Nature Conservancy, Save the Bay, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, are pleased to announce the passage of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act by the United States Congress. The bill, sponsored by Congressmen Jim Langevin (RI) and Joe Courtney (CT) sponsored the bill in the House, and Senator Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse sponsored the bill in the Senate, was included with a number of other land bills as part of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the House last week and the Senate on Friday, December 12, 2014. Also included in this bill was a provision that will establish a new unit of the national park system within the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
“The Wood and Pawcatuck Rivers are important to Rhode Island’s economy and environment and we must protect these natural resources. I commend Congressman Langevin for his efforts to get this bill done. This initiative could help develop a collaborative river management plan to address issues ranging from fish passages to the restoration of wetlands to assistance with flood mitigation,” said Senator Jack Reed.
The Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act will require that the National Parks Service complete a three year study to assess whether the Wood, Pawcatuck, Beaver, Chipuxet, and Queen Rivers meet the standards to be included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. In anticipation of the passage of this act, Congressman Langevin requested a Reconnaissance Survey of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed, which was completed in October 2013. The survey summary stated “The NPS reconnaissance survey team has determined, based on readily available information that segments of the Wood-Pawcatuck River exhibit free-flowing character and noteworthy natural, cultural and recreational resource values likely to meet eligibility criteria for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.”
An important part of the upcoming Wild and Scenic Study will be the inclusion of the all stakeholders in the development of a management plan for the rivers. This process will allow for the identification of those remarkably outstanding values that make the rivers so important to the community, and a community-based plan to protect those values.
Christopher J. Fox, WPWA Executive Director stated, “Pursuing a Wild & Scenic designation was the catalyst for the creation of the WPWA in the early 1980’s. I am very pleased that progress toward obtaining this designation has finally been achieved and I am proud of our staff, partners, and the RI and CT Congressional delegation’s tireless efforts to reach this milestone. I am most thankful to Congressmen Langevin and Courtney for their drafting and sponsorship of the Wood-Pawcatuck Protection Act and to Senators Reed and Whitehouse who worked diligently to assure passage in the Senate this year. The passage of this Act provides protection for rivers that generate significant tourism and recreation revenue for the States of Rhode Island and Connecticut. A Wild & Scenic designation further supports the ongoing revitalization of the Pawcatuck River and its tributaries as a prime destination for migratory fish. I feel extremely fortunate to have a hand in facilitating the river’s transformation from primarily serving industry, to evenly serving the people and the wildlife that rely on them.”
Wild and Scenic River Reconnaissance Survey of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed released by the National Parks Service in June 2014.
The reconnaissance survey provides a preliminary assessment of the eligibility and suitability of the Wood-Pawcatuck River as a candidate for a Wild and Scenic designation according to criteria established under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA). Included in the preliminary eligibility assessment is the identification of potentially significant natural, cultural and recreational resources that may be determined to be Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) as defined by the WSRA. The overall objective is to determine whether Congressional authorization for a Wild and Scenic River Study is warranted, and to make an initial determination on whether Wild and Scenic designation is an appropriate technique for river protection. The NPS reconnaissance survey team has determined, based on readily available information, that segments of the Wood-Pawcatuck River exhibit free-flowing character and noteworthy natural, cultural and recreational resource values likely to meet eligibility criteria for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. In addition, the presence of very strong community and interest group support for a Wild and Scenic River Study, together with a demonstrated track record of natural and cultural resource protection, support key elements of suitability for inclusion in the System, and provide a strong indication that a Wild and Scenic River Study would be appropriate and productive.
You can read the full report at Wild and Scenice Rivers Reconnaissance Survey.
Rivers to be Studied: Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Pawcatuck and Wood Rivers
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Map of the river segments in the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed being proposed for consideration as Wild & Scenic Rivers
List of the river segments being proposed for consideration as Wild & Scenic Rivers with descriptions of the "Outstandingly Remarkable Values" for each segment