Monday, February 4, 2019

Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA Applauds Senate Passage Of Bill Designating The Hellbender As PA's State Amphibian

On February 4, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Pennsylvania applauded the state Senate’s overwhelming passage of Senate Bill 9 (Yaw-R-Lycoming), which would designate the Eastern Hellbender as Pennsylvania’s official state amphibian and clean water ambassador.
Sen. Gene Yaw, Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, is the prime sponsor of the bill.
Hellbenders are North America’s largest salamander and survive where there is cold, clear, swift-running water. Growing to over two feet in length and weighing more than four pounds, they breathe oxygen from the water through their skin.
A lack of streamside trees along Commonwealth waterways allows waters to warm, polluted runoff to enter rivers and streams, and silt to build up in streambeds. As a result, habitat for hellbenders has been degraded and hellbender numbers have been decimated in Pennsylvania streams where they were plentiful as recently as 1990.
“Passing Senate Bill 9 is a good indicator that people are becoming more aware of how important clean water is, especially in our legislature,” said Anna Pauletta, past president of CBF’s Student Leadership Council (SLC) in Pennsylvania and current sophomore at Penn State University. “It’s a very important step for promoting clean water in the state of Pennsylvania, in addition to supporting youth leadership and student involvement in our House and Senate.”
SLC students studied hellbenders extensively and wrote the first draft of a bill similar to Senate Bill 9 that passed the Senate last session, but languished in the State House.
Peter Petokas, Ph.D., Amphibian Conservation Biologist at Lycoming College and faculty member of the College’s Clean Water Institute, applauded Senate action.  “Passage of Senate Bill 9 takes the Eastern Hellbender one step closer to the status of official amphibian of the State of Pennsylvania, a designation that it uniquely deserves and which will help promote conservation programs that protect and sustain the unique amphibian resources of the Commonwealth.”
For more information about the campaign for the Eastern hellbender, visit CBF’s Hellbender webpage.
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.
AP: Push Resumes To Recognize Hellbender As Official PA Amphibian

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