The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

David Moryc, 202-347-7550
Amy Kober, 206-898-3864

Vermont's Missisquoi and Trout Rivers One Step Closer to Permanent Protection

Rivers move closer to permanent protection in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System


A bill to study the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers for potential
designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers passed the House this evening
with bi-partisan support, putting the rivers one step closer to
permanent protection in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Located in northwest Vermont, the rivers are important sources of
clean water, and are part of the lifeblood of Vermont's natural and
cultural heritage. They are bordered by the largest, and perhaps the
highest-quality, silver maple floodplain forest remaining in the state.
The Missisquoi and Trout rivers are home to diverse animal life
including brook trout, rare freshwater mussels and spiny soft-shell
turtles. The marshes surrounding the rivers host migratory birds
including great blue herons and black terns. A special economic asset,
the Missisquoi River attracts tourism with numerous recreational
opportunities as a part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

The bill (H.R. 3667), would designate 50 miles of the Missisquoi
River and approximately 20 miles of the Trout River for a study to be
conducted by the National Park Service. Currently, Vermont does not
have any Wild and Scenic Rivers.

"Representative Welch should be commended for his hard work to move
this bill that will bring the river's communities together to consider
permanent protection," said David Moryc, Director of River Protection
for American Rivers. "As the Missisquoi and Trout rivers flow through a
landscape of forests, meadows, and family-run dairy farms, they weave
together Vermont's natural and cultural heritage. These rivers are
worthy candidates for Wild and Scenic River consideration."

About Wild and Scenic Rivers

This year, 2008, marks the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System includes more than 165 of
the nation's most outstanding rivers. Oregon leads the nation with 49
rivers designated, while Alaska boasts a stunning 3,210 miles of Wild
and Scenic rivers. The Missouri River explored by Lewis and Clark, the
Delaware River that cradled the American Revolution, and the Tuolumne
River loved by John Muir are all protected by this visionary law.

More than 3,400 rivers across the country meet the Wild and Scenic criteria, and yet remain unprotected.

To be eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation, a river must
be free-flowing and have at least one outstanding value, such as
recreation, scenery, wildlife, history, or other similar values. Rivers
may be added to the system by an act of Congress. Or, if a river is
protected through a state program, it may be designated by the
Secretary of the Interior upon official request by the governor.

To protect and enhance the values for which a river is designated,
the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act affords a river legal protection from
adverse development impacts.

The Act:
* Forbids the construction of new federally licensed dams
* Limits inappropriate streamside development
* Protects the river's unique values
* Mandates the creation of a management plan for the Wild and Scenic river

There are three types of Wild and Scenic Rivers:

"Wild" rivers -- vestiges of primitive America "Scenic" rivers --
free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely
primitive and undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads
"Recreational" rivers -- readily accessible by road or railroad, may
have some development along their shorelines, and may have undergone
some impoundment or diversion in the past

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.