WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.-05) on Thursday introduced the Housatonic Wild and Scenic River Act of 2022, which would create a U.S. National Park Service protective designation for 41 miles of the Housatonic River, running through Sharon, Canaan, Cornwall, Salisbury, New Milford, Kent, and North Canaan. The designation would bring federal resources to the towns along the river to support conservation efforts, especially as recreation use has increased since the start of COVID-19. In February, Murphy and Hayes held a roundtable in Kent with conservation leaders and local stakeholders to discuss the importance of protecting the Housatonic River and gather feedback on the legislation.
“Protecting the Housatonic River with a ‘wild and scenic’ designation will help us preserve the river’s beauty, ecological diversity, and recreational opportunities for generations to come. This has been a major priority for advocates and communities along the river, and I’m proud to work with Representative Hayes in introducing our bill that would unlock thousands in federal funds to support conservation efforts,” said Murphy.
“The National Wild and Scenic designation for the Housatonic River is over 40 years in the making. With the effects of climate change on the rise, I am thrilled to build upon the extraordinary work of the community by introducing this legislation with Senator Murphy. Moreover, the designation is not just symbolic. It brings critical funding to protect the rich ecosystem along the 41 miles of the river and support local recreation in the surrounding towns. I remain committed to expanding and improving access to clean, healthy outdoor spaces for all communities to enjoy,” said Hayes.
“The Housatonic River is a national and local treasure that attracts people from all over the country to communities like Kent. Wild and Scenic River status will help support our community and neighboring towns to protect this River's enduring legacy. I am very grateful to Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and Senator Chris Murphy for their leadership on our behalf to make this dream a reality,” said Jean Speck, First Selectman, Town of Kent, CT.
“People from this region have worked tirelessly for decades to protect the Housatonic River and its exceptional beauty, wildlife, and accessibility. We applaud Senator Chris Murphy and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes for championing Housatonic Wild and Scenic designation and helping protect the River we cherish for generations to come,” said Lynn Werner Executive Director, Housatonic Valley Association .
“Yes! This is exciting and welcome news! The Housatonic River Commission is thrilled to receive notice that H.R. 7551, Housatonic Wild and Scenic River Act of 2022 has been introduced in Congress. Thank you Senator Chris Murphy and Representative Jahana Hayes for your commitment to our natural resources and for your recognition of the Housatonic River. Inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Partnership Program is a huge step towards insuring our ability to successfully manage recreational use and conserve the stunning physical attributes of our River,” said William R. Tingley, Chairman, Housatonic River Commission.
Murphy’s Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic River Act was signed into law in 2019, creating a U.S. National Park Service protective “Wild and Scenic” river designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook.