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Political Leaders Continue Push for Lower Farmington River Protective Designation

Posted on July 26, 2016

 

By July 21, 2016

FARMINGTON, CT — A quartet of Connecticut legislators are continuing their fight to create a U.S. National Park Service protective designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook.

In a letter addressed to leaders of the Energy Policy Modernization Act conference committee, Sen. Chris Murphy, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. John Larson and Rep. Elizabeth Esty urged the committee to include their Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic River Act – which the Senate passed by unanimous vote –– in the final energy policy bill that Congress will vote on later this year, according to a statement issued Thursday.

With protective designation as a “Wild and Scenic river,” the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook would be eligible for federal funding to support conservation efforts, the statement said.

“During conference committee consideration of the energy policy bill, we strongly urge you to support legislative language included in the Senate version of the bill that would designate the lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook as part of the Wild and Scenic River System. The Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic Act…perfectly embodies what Congress should be doing: listening to the needs of local residents and supporting their work,” wrote the members. “The bill has full support from all of the stakeholders. Further, the bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and passed unanimously as an amendment to S.2012 during its consideration on the Senate floor. It is our hope that, with your help…the amazing, community-driven work that’s been done can be finally be endorsed this year through a federal designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook.”

The river runs through the Connecticut towns of Avon, Bloomfield, Burlington, Canton, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, Hartland, Simsbury, and Windsor. The upper portion of the river was given protected status in 1994.

Murphy, who initially introduced the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic River Act as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives with then-Senator Joe Lieberman, introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate last year. U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Congressman John Larson (CT-1) are cosponsors of the bill, the statement said.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Conferees:

During conference committee consideration of the energy policy bill, we strongly urge you to support legislative language included in the Senate version of the bill that would designate the lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook as part of the Wild and Scenic River System.

The inclusion of this language in the conference report would be the culmination of an incredible local effort and protect one of Connecticut’s most vital natural resources. The journey to obtain the Wild and Scenic River designation began over a decade ago, when local residents in the towns of Avon, Bloomfield, Burlington, Canton, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, Hartland, Simsbury, and Windsor, Connecticut, came together to form a unique partnership to protect the lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook. In our estimation, the bill, The Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic Act, perfectly embodies what Congress should be doing: listening to the needs of local residents and supporting their work. It is also based on a model that’s worked elsewhere in the state. The upper 14-mile portion of the Farmington River was designated as Wild & Scenic in 1994. This legislation would simply extend the designation to include the lower portion of the river.

We also worked very closely with the Park Service, which has fully endorsed the bill, and a dam operator along the river to craft an amendment that ensures the interests of all stakeholders—the towns, and the companies who own property along the river—are fully taken into account. As a result of this engagement, the bill has full support from all of the stakeholders. Further, the bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and passed unanimously as an amendment to S.2012 during its consideration on the Senate floor.

There is an amazing ecological, recreational, and historic story to tell about this stretch of river. It is our hope that, with your help, that story can continue to be told for generations, and that the amazing, community-driven work that’s been done can finally be endorsed this year through a federal designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal
U.S. Congressman John Larson
U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty