Jun 262014

We’ve received an important news release from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas’s office:

Jump to 2:15 in the video to see Congresswoman Niki Tsongas’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, DC — June 23, 2014 — Today, the House of Representatives passed a bill authored by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas that would take steps toward protecting the Nashua River. The bill passed with unanimous bipartisan support.

The Nashua River Wild and Scenic River Study Act (H.R. 412) authorizes 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.

H.R. 412 has been endorsed by all eight towns through which the Nashua runs in Massachusetts: Lancaster, Harvard, Shirley, Ayer, Groton, Dunstable, Pepperell, and Townsend.

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 history and development of the towns and cities in the 3rd District of Massachusetts has been defined by the many rivers that course through these unique communities. The study initiated by this bill will allow the National Park Service, the Watershed Association, and local governments and stakeholders to work together in forming a plan to protect the Nashua River and ensure that it remains a central part of life and growth in our region,” said Congresswoman Tsongas. “In 1999, 29 miles of the nearby Assabet, Sudbury, and Concord Rivers were designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Since then, we have seen how this designation can help protect not only the quality of the rivers, but the quality of the recreational activities that they support. It is my hope that the Wild and Scenic designation can be expanded to the Nashua River so we can see the same successes there. This step is essential to starting that process.”

Earlier this month, the National Park Service completed a reconnaissance survey on the Nashua River. According to a June, 2014 letter to Congresswoman Tsongas from the Department of the Interior, “the elements for a successful wild and scenic river study process for the Nashua River and its tributaries in Massachusetts are in place.” The report also emphasized extensive local support as reason to move forward with additional study. “Key local leaders have been working for over four years to educate the public and build support for federal Wild and Scenic Study authorization.”

Elizabeth Ainsley Campbell, Executive Director of the Nashua River Watershed Association, said “This legislation will help advance the protection of the entire river system and we are thrilled to see it move forward.”

“The Reconnaissance Survey confirms that the Nashua River and its tributaries have all the ingredients for a successful Wild and Scenic River Study: highly significant natural, cultural and recreational resources; capable and committed local partners; and local communities with a demonstrated track record of support for conservation of the River,” said Jamie Fosburgh, the New England Team Leader for Wild and Scenic Rivers.

In his closing statement at a subcommittee hearing last year, Republican Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Rob Bishop (R-Utah) thanked Congresswoman Tsongas for her work on this bill and said he is, “supportive of what you’re trying to do here and of the study.”

Tsongas is a member of the Natural Resources Committee and has worked to preserve and protect the rivers and waterways in the Third Congressional District. She hosts an annual River Day to highlight the importance of the Rivers in the communities she represents and to recognize the organizations, volunteers and different levels of government working together to sustain and preserve the integrity of these resources.