Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has signed a Secretarial Order establishing a National Blueways System and announced that the 410-mile-long Connecticut River and its 7.2 million-acre watershed will be the first National Blueway—covering areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“The Connecticut River Watershed is a model for how communities can integrate their land and water stewardship efforts with an emphasis on ‘source-to-sea’ watershed conservation,” Salazar said. “I am pleased to recognize the Connecticut River and its watershed with the first National Blueway designation as we seek to fulfill President Obama’s vision for healthy and accessible rivers that are the lifeblood of our communities and power our economies.”
The new National Blueways System is part of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to establish a community-driven conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century.
Running from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River and its watershed include 2.4 million residents and 396 communities. The estimated 1.4 million people who enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife of the Connecticut River watershed every year contribute at least a billion dollars to local economies, according to the Trust for Public Land.
The National Blueways System recognizes river systems conserved through diverse stakeholder partnerships that use a comprehensive watershed approach to resource stewardship. The program is intended to provide a new national emphasis on the unique value and significance of a “headwaters to mouth” approach to river management.
The National Blueway designation differs from existing federal designations for rivers (e.g., Wild and Scenic), which generally cover only a segment of a river and a narrow band of the riparian corridor. A National Blueway, by contrast, includes the entire river from “source to sea” as well as the river’s watershed. National Blueways designations are intended to recognize and support existing local and regional conservation, recreation, and restoration efforts, and do not establish a new protective status or regulations.
For more information on the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, please click HERE.
For an online media toolkit specific to the announcement, please click HERE.