A momentous day for salamander, clean water, pupils

On April 23, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 9 — now Act 3 of 2019 — recognizing the Eastern hellbender as Pennsylvania’s first official state amphibian. It was a momentous day for the salamander, Pennsylvania students and clean water.

This bipartisan bill is about more than celebrating a new state symbol. It is about celebrating a new generation of young leaders committed to our state’s future.

I first introduced the bill at the request of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania Student Leadership Council. These young people should be commended for bringing attention to the hellbender and advocating for the clean water it needs to survive. Not only did they draft the legislation itself, they also championed it through two legislative sessions.

Many thanks, as well, to Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for their technical assistance to the student-led effort, and to Gov. Wolf and my colleagues in the General Assembly who ensured the bill became law. Passage affirms that our young citizens can make a difference when they get involved in the governmental process.

Together, we can work for conservation programs that improve water quality not only for hellbenders, but for all Pennsylvanians.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, is chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

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