May 022012

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (r) and Elizabeth Ainsley Campbell, Executive Director Nashua River Watershed AssociationArt Campbell | The Groton Line

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (r) and Elizabeth Ainsley Campbell, Executive Director NRWA at announcement of legislation studying Nashua R. for "Wild & Scenic" designation

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas unveiled new legislation for a study on designation of the Nashua River as a Wild & Scenic River at the Nashua River Watershed Association on Wednesday morning. “Wild & Scenic” is a federal classification that would help preserve and protect the waterway and make it eligible to receive federal funding for conservation. The Nashua is considered a strong candidate for this designation because the river previously ranked among the nation”s most polluted, and while significant progress has been made in cleaning up the river, threats to water quality from polluted runoff and biological diversity are still present, according to a press release issued by Tsongas’s office and the Nashua River Watershed Association.

Making the announcement, Tsongas said: “The Rivers of the Fifth District have helped to shape our history, culture, and economy for generations. The legislation that I am introducing recognizes the great role that the Nashua has played in contributing to our region and would help to keep the River clean, vibrant and easily accessible. Thanks to the work of the Nashua River Watershed Association, the Nashua has undergone a tremendous recovery and its designation as a Wild & Scenic River would enable additional preservation efforts while allowing this natural treasure to be enjoyed for many years to come.”

The press release explains that: “Tsongas” legislation (filed last Friday) would authorize the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a study on the Nashua River and two of its tributaries, the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers, to determine their eligibility for designation as Wild & Scenic Rivers. During the study process the NPS would work with state and local governments, conservation groups, and concerned residents to develop a conservation plan for the river in order to protect water quality and conserve open spaces. Should the study favorably determine the Nashua River”s eligibility as a Wild & Scenic River, legislation to officially designate the river and implement the conservation plan would then be introduced in order to clean up polluted waters around the river, keep drinking water supplies clean, and protect the river for a variety of uses.

The bill, H.R. 5319, entitled the Nashua River Wild and Scenic River Study Act, has been endorsed by all seven towns through which the Nashua runs in Massachusetts: Lancaster, Harvard, Shirley, Ayer, Groton, Dunstable and Pepperell. The Nashua would join the Concord, Sudbury, and Assabet as rivers in the Fifth District that have been designated as Wild & Scenic. A 4.8 mile segment in Pepperell would be excluded from the study because of an existing hydro project that FERC is in the midst of permitting.”

Read the bill, as filed.