Vermont Rivers Bill Passes Senate Committee

WASHINGTON, September 11 - A Senate panel today approved legislation that could lead to designating the Missisquoi and Trout rivers as "Wild and Scenic."

The measure introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and cosponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Sanders is a member.

The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of the Interior to study the two northern Vermont rivers as the first step toward adding them to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Leahy said, "This will charter an inventory of two highly prized Vermont rivers. It's a useful and constructive step that could also lead to help with our stewardship of these two great natural resources."

Sanders said, "This legislation strikes an essential balance between the use of our natural resources for recreation and sport, and maintaining a clean environment in keeping with our state's proud tradition of responsible stewardship."

Designation of the Missisquoi and Trout rivers as Vermont's first "Wild and Scenic" rivers would help protect the natural, cultural and recreational aspects of the rivers, maintain water quality in the rivers themselves and Lake Champlain into which the Missisquoi flows, and require a comprehensive river management plan with significant state and local involvement. Such a designation would not prohibit commercial or recreational activities along the rivers.

Companion legislation, sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), passed the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 299 to 118.