York River Wild and Scenic River Act of 2021
STATEMENT OF TOM MEDEMA, ACTING ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, INTERPRETATION, EDUCATION, AND VOLUNTEERS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS CONCERNING H.R. 1469, A BILL TO AMEND THE WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS ACT TO DESIGNATE CERTAIN RIVER SEGMENTS WITHIN THE YORK WATERSHED IN THE STATE OF MAINE AS COMPONENTS OF THE NATIONAL WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS SYSTEM AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
November 9, 2021
Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on H.R. 1469, a bill to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate certain river segments within the York watershed in the State of Maine as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 1469.
H.R. 1469 would designate eight segments of the York River totaling 30.8 miles as part of the System, to be administered by the Secretary of the Interior as a recreational river. The segments would be managed in accordance with the York River Watershed Stewardship Plan, prepared in 2018 as a part of the National Park Service’s study of the York River, with the Secretary coordinating administration and management with a locally based stewardship committee, as specified in the plan. The bill would authorize the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements with the State of Maine, the municipalities of Eliot, Kittery, South Berwick, and York, and appropriate local, regional, or State planning, environmental, or recreational organizations. The legislation follows the model of other recent New England Wild and Scenic Rivers designations based on a “partnership” model emphasizing locally based management solutions and a limited federal role.
The study of the York River was authorized by P.L. 113-291, the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The National Park Service conducted the study in close cooperation with the adjoining communities, the State of Maine, the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, and other interested local parties. Technical assistance provided as a part of the study made possible the development of the York River Watershed Stewardship Plan. This plan is based primarily around local partner actions designed to guide the stewardship of certain segments of the York River with or without a National Wild and Scenic Rivers designation. The draft York Wild and Scenic River Study Report was made available for public review and comment from January 10 to April 10, 2020. Public comments received on the draft were overwhelmingly in support of designation. The Final Study report, transmitted to Congress on July 13, 2021, found that the approximately 30.8 miles of the York River and its major tributaries are eligible and suitable for designation into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System as recreational.
If H.R. 1469 is enacted, segments of the York River and its tributaries would be administered as a partnership wild and scenic river, similar to several other designations in the Northeast, including the upper Farmington River and the Eightmile River in Connecticut, and the Lamprey River in New Hampshire.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.