Congress Approved Wild and Scenic River Designation for the Musconetcong River

The U.S. House of Representatives approved designating New Jersey’s Musconetcong River, one of musconetcongHeritage Conservancy’s seven Lasting Landscapes®, as a Wild and Scenic River. House bill H.R. 1307, the Musconetcong Wild and Scenic River Act, has now been referred to the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush in 2006.

Wild and Scenic River designation places a layer of protection on a river as a valued natural resource; it also makes federal funds for resource conservation projects, such as bank stabilization, more easily available.

Heritage Conservancy played an important role in achieving this milestone. In June 2004, we completed the Musconetcong River National Wild and Scenic Rivers Study on behalf of the Musconetcong Watershed Association. This study, which was funded by the National Parks Service, determined which river segments were eligible for inclusion in the national system and identified appropriate classifications for the segments in the event they were so designated. In addition, Heritage Conservancy staff participated in advisory committee meetings and facilitated public meetings associated with this project.

The Musconetcong River is the largest non-tidal tributary to the Delaware River in New Jersey and the longest un-dammed river east of the Mississippi. Its watershed lies entirely within the important Highlands Region, a landscape granted federal designation by the Highlands Conservation Act of 2004, and along the Atlantic Flyway, one of four major migratory bird routes in North America.

Approximately 20 of its tributaries are regionally important trout fishing streams that support naturally reproducing trout populations and regionally important populations of wildlife and critical habitat for state-listed threatened, endangered or rare species present within the river corridor. More than 100,000 people annually visit the Allamuchy and Stephens State Parks alone, and the region also contains numerous bridges, mills and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since identifying the Musconetcong River Valley Watershed as a Lasting Landscape, Heritage Conservancy has completed numerous other projects in the area, including training municipal officials and community groups on the vital link between land use and water quality and the creation of a beautiful poster, “The Wetlands Wonders of the Musconetcong,” which encouraged the public to visit the accessible areas of the Musconetcong wetlands and to appreciate and protect this great resource. The poster was distributed to all municipalities, for further distribution through schools, community groups, and at events.

For more information about the Musconetcong River Valley Watershed, contact Heritage Conservancy or The Musconetcong Watershed Association.

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