Fly fishing

Bill introduced in Congress could lead to national designation for Deerfield River

DEERFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Efforts are underway to preserve some of Franklin County’s wilderness, with Congressman Jim McGovern filing legislation to conduct a study of the Deerfield River.

Congressman McGovern hopes to add the river to the list of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, which would open it up to federal resources to preserve it.

“Right now in the United States, we are losing a natural area the size of a football field to human development every 30 seconds,” Congressman Jim McGovern said Monday as he stood on the Stillwater Bridge in Deerfield. “We need to take every opportunity we have to keep the places that matter most to us.”

The 76-mile-long Deerfield River meanders through Massachusetts and Vermont with the Mohawk Trail running alongside it. Chris Curtis is part of the Deerfield River Watershed Association, he said he has received letters of support from 18 communities in the Deerfield River watershed to participate in this federal designation process, adding that there are many reasons why protect.

“It offers some of the best paddling and whitewater rafting in Massachusetts,” Curtis said. “It’s great trout fishing with some of the best dry fly fishing in the northeast.”

This is the first major step towards obtaining national designation for the Deerfield River, but the whole process could take 3-5 years.

“Once this bill passes, federal funding is provided for a locally guided study to determine if the river is eligible, which segments of the river are eligible, and to create a management plan,” Curtis said.

After that, they’ll have to do more community outreach to make sure they’re okay with the designation again, and then a second bill will have to pass Congress.