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McGovern, Markey begin push for federal 'Wild and Scenic' designation for Deerfield River

The Deerfield River, which runs from southern Vermont into western Massachusetts, could become part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey announced legislation to start the process with a study. If eventually approved, an official National Wild and Scenic Rivers designation would bring about $200,000 a year to the watershed.

On Monday morning, standing on a bridge over the Deerfield River, McGovern said the legislation is something hopeful, in the middle of a lot of depressing news.

“It's about making communities like Deerfield a destination point for people from not only all over New England, but all over the country," McGovern said. “I will take care of it in the [U.S.] House and we have to attach it to something that is a must-pass piece of legislation. But we will get this designation, which will enable us to have access to a whole bunch of federal money.”

The funds could go toward improving wildlife habitat and access for fishing and swimming. Local officials said they would feel the benefits of an economic ripple effect.

The nearby Westfield Riveralready has the federal designation.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."