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

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

“Right now in the United States, we lose a football field sized area of nature to human development every 30 seconds,” said Congressman Jim McGovern while standing on the Stillwater Bridge in Deerfield Monday. “We have to seize every opportunity we have to conserve the places that matter the most to us.”

The 76 miles long Deerfield River winds through Massachusetts and Vermont with the Mohawk Trail running along it. Chris Curtis is with the Deerfield River Watershed Association, he said they’ve received letters of support from 18 communities in the Deerfield River Watershed to take part in this federal designation process adding there are a lot of reasons to protect it.

“It offers some of the best whitewater boating and rafting in Massachusetts,” Curtis said. “It’s excellent trout fishery with some of the best dry fly fishing in the Northeast.”

This is the first major step in getting a national designation for the Deerfield River but the whole process could take 3-5 years.

“Once this bill is passed the 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,” said Curtis.

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