York River “Wild and Scenic” Designation Proposed by Senate Committee
WASHINGTON, DC – With a bipartisan vote Thursday, November 18, a key United States Senate committee advanced efforts to designate the York River as part of the “Wild and Scenic” Rivers Program National Park System.
Senator Angus King, I-Maine, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, announced the bipartisan passage by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee of its legislation to add the York River to the agenda.
The designation would protect the river and surrounding area from development and federal funds in the area. The bill is now heading to the Senate floor for full consideration.
“The York River has a long history of playing an important role in communities across southern Maine, and is one of the state’s most outstanding natural resources,” King said in a statement. “It is extremely important that local York communities can protect the river and watersheds for future generations to come – and I am committed to supporting their efforts. “
King said Thursday’s vote “is a testament to the commitment of the York community – who have worked tirelessly to secure the designation – and the remarkable nature of the river. “
Jennifer Hunter, Wild York River and Scenic Studies Coordinator, celebrated the development.
“We are very pleased to learn of today’s legislative progress and we know that we are a further step towards achieving the York River designation,” Hunter said in a statement.
“The river, its marsh system and its watershed are directly linked to recreation, our economy, critical wildlife and marine habitats, and more resilient to climate-related stressors, all of which relate to well-being,” from the community “added Hunter”. The Wild and Scenic River designation will strengthen local efforts to maintain a healthy river ecosystem capable of supporting important community values in the future.
Earlier this year, the King, along with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Gold, D-Maine, introduced the bipartisan, bicameral bill to create the designation. The bill followed a three-year study – funded by a law King introduced in 2013 – conducted by local stakeholders who recommended the designation.
In 2018, voters in York and Eliot voted overwhelmingly in referendums to move forward with the designation, like the city councils of Kittery and South Berwick.
A “wild and scenic river designation” would direct federal funding and technical assistance to the region, while ensuring that decisions about the health and future of the river are made at the local level. The designation will also raise the profile of the York River as a national destination, in addition to providing a local forum for the four watershed communities to collaboratively address long-term river stewardship needs.