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) in the House, and Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse 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.”
“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 on-going Wild and Scenic Study will be the inclusion of the all stakeholders in the development of a stewardship 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.