CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, June 5, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2336, the York River Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The bill was introduced on June 23, 2011, by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill by unanimous consent on November 17, 2011.
H.R. 2336 would require the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a study of a 11.25 mile segment of the York River in southwest Maine and determine whether the segment is suitable for designation as a Wild and Scenic River. The study would require the NPS to analyze a segment of the river from its headwaters at York Pond to the mouth of the river at York Harbor, and all associated tributaries. The study would have to be complete within three years after funds were made available. According to CBO, implementing the legislation would cost less than $250,000 over the next three years, assuming availability of appropriated funds.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created in 1968 with the intent of protecting the natural characteristics of the nation’s “outstanding,” free flowing rivers and their immediate surrounding environments from development. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provides three separate designations for rivers: wild, scenic, or recreational. According to the National Wild and Scenic River System, a river, or section of river, is designated wild if it is free of impoundments, has primitive shorelines, is only accessible by trails, and has unpolluted waters. Scenic rivers are meant to have largely undeveloped shorelines, may be accessible by roads in places, and are more developed than wild rivers. Rivers are designated as recreational if they are readily accessible by road, have some development along the shoreline, and may have had some impoundment or diversion (like a dam) in the past. If a river receives a Wild and Scenic River designation, no new dams may be constructed and federally assisted water resource development projects would not be allowed. Specifically, the designation prohibits federal construction of dams or other facilities that endanger the free flow and/or resource value of the river. In the past, some segments of rivers that Congress has included in the Wild and Scenic River System have been scrutinized because they seemingly lacked the essential natural qualities needed to be designated as a scenic river.
According to CBO, implementing the legislation would cost less than $250,000 over the next three years, assuming availability of appropriated funds.