I am proud to represent such a beautiful, picturesque district, and I am dedicated to maintaining the natural beauty of both the 15th District and our great country. Environmental stewardship is the responsibility of every American. As a Congressman, I have a duty to advance sensible policies that improve the health of ecosystems, protect important wildlife and conserve open space. I believe preserving and enhancing our natural environment benefits all Americans by creating wonderful opportunities for education, recreation, and even economic development.
One of the most important environmental issues in our area is the condition of the Delaware River Basin, which encompasses the entire 15th District. I am pleased to represent our state as the Pennsylvania co-chair of the Delaware River Basin Task Force, a bipartisan group of legislators focused on promoting the restoration and vitality of the Delaware’s watershed and river communities. The Task Force aims to promote the health and well-being of our region’s natural resources by improving communication and coordinating efforts to benefit the basin; keeping Members of Congress from the area and their staff informed on issues of importance; identifying and supporting federal policies to enhance, develop, and protect the river and its tributaries; and advocating for the appropriation of funds to support this region. Nearly 15 million people rely on the waters of the Delaware River, and I will continue working with the Task Force to identify and coordinate efforts to promote the environmental sustainability of this vital natural resource.
I have been a strong proponent of National Heritage Areas as a means of conserving areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, and recreational resources, and promoting conservation as a mechanism of economic development. These areas are designated by Congress to protect and promote the historic and natural assets of a given region for the educational benefit of present and future generations. Heritage Areas play a vital role in maintaining both the physical character and the cultural legacy of the United States.
Two such areas run through our district, the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area and the Delaware and Lehigh (D&L) National Heritage Corridor. The Schuylkill River Area, which runs from Ashland to Philadelphia, showcases a diverse array of historic, recreational, and cultural experiences from old Philadelphia to Valley Forge. The D&L Corridor, located between Wilkes-Barre and Bristol, comprises rivers, canals, and railroads, which historically served as an important network for commerce in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
During my first term in Congress, I introduced legislation to reauthorize funding for the D&L Corridor through 2019. My bill also would have transitioned the corridor’s federal management commission to a private, non-profit corporation in order to help this area sustain itself as an independent, private entity. This year, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (PA-11) and I were able to work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that this important heritage area was reauthorized for the next five years.
Another important conservation effort that impacts the 15th District is the establishment of a National Wildlife Refuge in the beautiful Cherry Valley. As a leading sponsor of the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Study Act, I am a strong proponent of establishing the 20,466 acre refuge located in Monroe and Northampton Counties. This refuge will protect and preserve many critical ecosystems, which support a diverse array of wildlife, including federally listed endangered species such as the Indiana bat. The establishment of the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge will ensure the protection of these animals’ natural habitats, and ensure that this region will be available for generations of Pennsylvanians to appreciate.