021519 RICH Wood River views hh 749.JPG

View of a section of the winding Wood River in Richmond on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. The Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed system has recently won wild and scenic designation from the U.S. Senate. Harold Hanka, The Westerly Sun

Federal legislation protecting the Wood-Pawtucket  Watershed has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney of Connecticut and Jim Langevin of Rhode Island said Wednesday’s passage of the National Resources Management Act includes the permanent designation of the watershed as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system, a designation that provides access to federal funding for conservation and stewardship efforts.

Courtney called the 363-62 vote the result of “years of community work” that the two states’ congressional delegations “converted into protections for the watershed that will live on for generations.”

In 2018, all 12 towns within the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed formally adopted the stewardship plan and supported a designation through the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Langevin said the watershed is “home to pristine waterways” that provide access to fishing and recreational activities for tourists and local residents.

The bill was part of a broader bipartisan package, the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47). That measure also contains a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses revenues from offshore oil and gas leases to preserve public lands. It designates over 1 million new acres of wilderness and extends protections for migratory birds through 2022.

The Natural Resources Act passed the Senate last week by a vote of 92-8. The bill now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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