HARRISBURG – State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), joined representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), along with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) for a press conference to celebrate the new Eastern hellbender license plate to support the Wild Resource Conservation Program.
“The Eastern hellbender is the largest and most unique salamander in North America,” Sen. Yaw said. “It serves as a meaningful symbol of Pennsylvania’s clean water and biological diversity and is worthy of this important designation. I am grateful to the Wild Resource Conservation Program for recognizing the hellbender and encouraging citizen engagement in its preservation and protection.”
Act 3 of 2019, sponsored by Yaw, designated the Eastern hellbender as the first official “State Amphibian” of Pennsylvania. Yaw introduced the measure at the request of members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania Student Leadership Council.
“Honoring the Eastern hellbender with a license plate is a great way to raise awareness about our state amphibian and the work the Wild Resource Conservation Program does to protect our rare plants and animals,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Thank you to DCNR staff, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its Student Leadership Program, Senator Gene Yaw, and all of the partners who helped make this license plate possible.”
“Chesapeake Bay Foundation student leaders are proud of their role in having the Eastern hellbender designated as Pennsylvania’s official state amphibian. It would not have been possible without Senator Yaw’s support and his belief in what the hellbender stands for,” said Emma Stone, former President of CBF’s Student Leadership Council. “We also thank the Wild Resource Conservation Program for this special license plate. As students, we learned a lot about this special salamander and how government works. Those lessons will stay with us always.”
“Because of its recognizable name, impressive size, and fascinating appearance, the Eastern hellbender has become a wonderful ambassador for Pennsylvania’s rich diversity of native fish, reptiles, and amphibians and other aquatic species,” Tim Schaeffer, PFBC Executive Director and Chairman of the Wild Resource Conservation Program said. “While many of these animals are so rare that most Pennsylvanians may never see one in the wild, this license plate is a visible reminder that all species are a valuable parts of Pennsylvania ecosystems and are worth protecting. The Eastern hellbender is also a relevant and charismatic barometer of local water quality.”
“PennDOT is proud of the number of special fund plates we offer and the diverse missions of the organizations the funds generated support,” PennDOT Bureau of Motor Vehicles Director Stephen Madrak said. “It’s a good opportunity for a government agency to be able to give back to the people it serves.”
The Wild Resource Conservation Program allows citizens to help support the management of wild resources with a contribution opportunity through a tax check-off and license plate program.
As chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Yaw serves as a designated member of the Wild Resource Conservation Board.
For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.