Hearings and Business Meetings
May 16 2006
SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 02:30 PM
Mr. Steve Martin
Deputy Director, National Park Service
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 1686, TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION HERITAGE ACT OF 1988 TO PROVIDE FOR THE OPERATION OF THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER.
May 16, 2006
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1686, a bill to amend the Constitution Heritage Act of 1988. The Department supports enactment of S. 1686 with some amendments.
The construction of the National Constitution Center (NCC) was a major component of the reconstruction of Independence Mall, the three city blocks north of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This multi-year planning effort also included a new Independence Visitor’s Center completed in 2001, and the Liberty Bell Center completed in 2003. Improvements to the Mall landscape are continuing.
The NCC represents a true exemplar of the value of public-private partnerships being undertaken today at Independence National Historical Park by the National Park Service. The state of the art facility, designed with more than 100 advanced interactive exhibits, opened to rave reviews on July 4, 2003, and continues to provide an outstanding visitor experience. Visitors to the NCC come away with an understanding of the framing and implementation of the Constitution of the United States, and as important, its continuing relevance to today’s society. The NCC’s programs are challenging, thought provoking and have received wide acclaim by visitors and scholars alike. The National Park Service is proud and privileged to be a partner with the non-profit organization of the same name, the National Constitution Center, which operates the NCC, in this most successful endeavor.
S. 1686 would clarify the authorities that support current operations and agreements between the National Park Service and National Constitution Center. It would amend Section 4 of the Constitution Heritage Act of 1988 by adding a new subsection (c) relating to provisions of a cooperative agreement between the Secretary of the Interior and the National Constitution Center. The provisions specify that any revenues from facilities and services of the NCC shall be made available to the National Constitution Center to offset operating expenses without further appropriation, as is the current practice. It would also ensure the continuation of an existing cooperative agreement, and allow a subsequent agreement to be negotiated for up to 30 years, instead of the current limit of five years. This longer time period would facilitate the National Constitution Center’s efforts to obtain financing. Other provisions would require the National Constitution Center to purchase insurance, provide annual reports, and take other administrative steps as part of a cooperative agreement. The bill also provides amendments to a number of sections by striking the word “Center” and inserting “NCC” to clarify the difference between the physical building and the 501(c)(3) organization.
The relationship of the National Park Service with the National Constitution Center is a significant model for successful public-private partnerships. We look forward to continuing our productive partnership in the future and request that the committee favorably act on S. 1686.
We propose a few amendments to the bill to clarify when we are referring to the organization operating the NCC and not to the actual building. In addition, based on Public Law 107-217, we need to update a reference to an existing law that has been superseded. We would be glad to work with the committee on these proposed amendments.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony, and I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the committee might have.
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 2417 AND H.R. 4192, TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO DESIGNATE THE PRESIDENT WILLIAM JEFERSON CLINTON BIRTHPLACE HOME IN HOPE, ARKANSAS, AS A NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE AND UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM.
MAY 16, 2006
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify on S. 2417 and H.R. 4192, bills that would authorize the Secretary to establish the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home as a National Historic Site and a unit of the National Park System in Hope, Arkansas. H.R. 4192 passed the House of Representatives on March 8, 2006, without a hearing. The Department supports the effort to honor the birthplace home of former President Clinton, but suggests amending S. 2417 and H.R. 4192 to authorize a study.
S. 2417 and H.R. 4192 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to designate the William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home as a National Historic Site and a unit of the National Park System should the Secretary acquire, by donation only, the birthplace home and any personal property related to that site from the Clinton Birthplace Foundation, Inc. The Secretary would administer the unit in accordance with laws generally applicable to preserving national historic sites. It is our understanding that the Clinton Birthplace Foundation also intends to donate the existing visitor center located at 415 West, Division Street and adjacent to the birthplace home, however this property was inadvertently left out of S. 2417 and H.R. 4192 when the bills were introduced.
In 1998, Congress passed Public Law 105-391, the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998, which requires congressional authorization of areas to be studied for potential new units of the National Park System. The law also designates the criteria to be followed by the National Park Service (NPS) in determining whether to recommend an area as a unit of the National Park System.
We recognize the importance of the birthplace of President William Jefferson Clinton and therefore appreciate the goals of S. 2417 and H.R. 4192. Consistent with our testimony on the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in March 2001, we suggest, however, that the subcommittee ensure that the intent of Congress, as expressed in Public Law 105-391, is carried out by amending the bill to authorize a study of the birthplace and the visitor center to determine whether they conform to the criteria of Public Law 105-391. We recognize the potential significance of these properties and would support an authorization of a new study. We would be glad to work with the subcommittee on the appropriate language.
With respect to historical sites, the studies do not only look at whether the event or person associated with the site was historically significant. They also look at the integrity of the buildings, and other factors, such as whether there are other sites that might more appropriately tell the story associated with a particular individual.
The National Park system consists of many previous residences of former Presidents. However, there are also many residences of former Presidents that are not part of the system. A study would look at whether the Federal government is the most appropriate entity to manage the site. Some sites are managed by other entities, such as state governments and private foundations. Conducting a professional study allows Congress to be sure it is protecting an area that meets the criteria of the National Park System.
A study also will enable the NPS and the Congress to identify the costs in acquiring, restoring, and operating a potential site. We believe that the information gathered during the study process is invaluable and better ensures that the NPS can continue its progress in addressing maintenance backlog needs in our national parks. In fact, in March 2001, the Department also took the position that a study was needed when asked to testify on the designation of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home as a National Historic Site. Similar to S. 2417 and H.R. 4192, that bill also proposed designation prior to the authorization and completion of a study.
Presidential homes and sites provide a valuable link to understanding our country’s history and government and are an important part of our national heritage. Plans to purchase and restore the birthplace home of then President William Jefferson Clinton began in 1993, and the Clinton Birthplace Foundation, a non-profit organization, was formed to purchase, restore, and promote the history of the site. The two and one-half story American four-square home, patterned from a design in France, was built in 1917 by Dr. H.S. Garrett. The home is located at 117 South Hervey Street in Hope, Arkansas, and belonged to President Clinton’s maternal grandparents, Eldridge and Edith Cassidy. William Jefferson Blythe, as he was then known, lived there from his birth in 1946, until his mother married Roger Clinton in 1950.
The residence has been returned to its identical state when President Clinton lived there as a young boy. It is currently open for public tours operated by the Clinton Birthplace Foundation. When the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, it was described as “. . . the single property most significantly and exclusively associated with Clinton’s humble beginnings, the inner strength he learned from his mother, and the dedication to purpose that has sustained him throughout his distinguished political career.”
The William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace site demonstrates the efforts of a local community working together to preserve and to tell the story of the birth and childhood of a man who later became the 42nd President of the United States to present and future generations.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment. This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other subcommittee members might have.
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 2419 AND H.R. 4882, BILLS TO ENSURE THE PROPER REMEMBERANCE OF VIETNAM VETERANS AND THE VIETNAM WAR BY PROVIDING A DEADLINE FOR THE DESIGNATION OF A VISITOR CENTER FOR THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL.
May 16, 2006
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 2419 and H.R. 4882, bills to ensure the proper remembrance of Vietnam Veterans and the Vietnam War by designating a site for a visitor center for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4882 as amended on March 28, 2006, by a vote of 404-4.
The Department supports development of a visitor center (center) for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We also support the processes governing such development as set forth in the Commemorative Works Act (CWA), which separates the authorization of memorials and the site and design approval processes and provides for public input, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which describes a vision for balancing environmental, cultural, and economic goals and provides for cooperative problem solving by requiring public comment on the environmental effects of federal actions.
We are making significant progress in the site approval process for the center as provided for under the CWA and the National Park Service (NPS) is nearing completion of the Environmental Assessment provided for under NEPA that was requested by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). The NPS plans to release the Environmental Assessment for public comment before the end of May and submit our preferred site for the center to the NCPC by June 30, for approval at its August 3 meeting. If the NCPC agrees with our preferred site, the site selection process will be completed this summer.
S. 2419 and H.R. 4882 would amend section 6 of Public Law 96-297, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Act, by authorizing the location of the center for the memorial at Henry Bacon Drive, 23rd Street, Constitution Avenue and the Lincoln Memorial in the District of Columbia. S. 2419 also would authorize a deadline for the final approval of the center no later than 30 days from the date of enactment of this legislation in section 2(c). Should the subcommittee decide to move forward, the Department recommends that the additional language in section 2(c) of S. 2419 be removed because it is confusing and does not make a distinction between the site selection and the design process. The siting process for the center is currently underway; however, the center has not yet undergone the design phase and those decisions cannot be completed within 30 days.
The CWA developed a process for establishing memorials in the Nation’s Capital. This process has worked well for 20 years, and we support this process. While it has been amended, these changes have strengthened the CWA without modifying the process as originally authorized. The CWA identifies the roles and responsibilities of the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission, the NCPC, the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), and the Secretary of the Interior. The NCPC and the CFA both play critical roles in the site selection and design process. We believe that the expertise offered and the approvals required by these entities as well as the process of gaining the approval of the Secretary of the Interior has resulted in new memorials of the highest quality. In addition, the CWA provides the American people with the opportunity to be involved in the decisions regarding how the historical events and persons will be honored in the Nation’s Capital by providing public involvement in the siting and design of the memorials.
Some of the organizations authorized by public law to erect memorials have been frustrated by the delays brought about by the opinions of these public bodies regarding the location or design of their projects. But by the time these memorials were dedicated, many have agreed that their commemorative work was of a higher quality due to the process used along the path to completion.
The Act authorizing the center states that the provisions relating to siting of memorials under the CWA would apply. This includes approval of the site by both the NCPC and CFA. The CFA reviewed and conditionally approved the site at its September 15, 2005 meeting with the proviso that the design not detract from the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Their conditional approval was based on a documentation of alternative sites evaluated for the center, which followed a similar format that other memorial sponsors have used since the enactment of the CWA. As mentioned above, NPS will complete its portion of the process by the end of June with the NCPC’s consideration of NPS’ site submission in August. We, thus, plan to complete the siting process by the end of this summer.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment. This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other subcommittee members might have.
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 2568, TO AMEND THE NATIONAL TRAILS SYSTEM ACT TO DESIGNATE THE CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH CHESAPEAKE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL.
May 16, 2006
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 2568, a bill to amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
The Department is currently completing the study authorized by Public Law 109-54 to determine the feasibility of designating this trail. We request that the committee defer action on the bill until the study is completed. To date, we have not encountered any information that would lead us to believe that the trail fails to meet the required criteria for designation as a national historic trail.
S. 2568 would designate the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail as a component of the National Trails System. The trail would be administered by the Department of the Interior in coordination with the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network and the Chesapeake Bay Program. In addition, the Secretary of the Interior would consult with other Federal, State, Tribal, regional, and local agencies, and the private sector in the administration of the trail. No land could be acquired for the trail outside the boundary of any Federally managed area without the consent of the owner of the land.
As we approach the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement and the anniversary in 2007 of the beginning of Captain John Smith’s explorations, the conduct of our present study is most timely. The proposed trail would follow a series of routes extending approximately 3,000 miles along the Chesapeake Bay and the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay in the States of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, and the District of Columbia that trace Captain John Smith’s voyages charting the land and waterways of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in a series of voyages and travels from 1607 through 1609, while executing his company’s directives to search for a “northwest passage” to the Pacific Ocean. Smith’s two major explorations occurred in the summer of 1608, each leaving from Jamestown, Virginia. Between the two voyages, Smith and a small crew traversed the entire length of the Chesapeake Bay, explored the shoreline of the lower half of the Eastern Shore, and ventured into the major tributaries along the western shore of the bay. Smith had extensive interactions with Native Americans and recorded significant information about these peoples and the general Chesapeake environment in his book published in 1612. He also made one of the first and most detailed maps of the Chesapeake Bay. In Smith’s words “heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a more perfect place for man's habitation.”
Four hundred years later, the Chesapeake Bay’s basic geography remains relatively similar to Smith’s time, but much else has changed. More than 16 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with the densest concentrations at locations adjacent to where Smith traveled (Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and the greater Norfolk/ Hampton Roads area in VA). Human uses of the bay region have caused significant impacts on the Chesapeake environment and the Bay itself. The establishment of a national historic trail traversing the routes of John Smith’s early voyages would likely provide increased public knowledge of the history, and sensitivity to the valuable resources of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as increased recreational opportunities.
The National Park Service enjoys a close association with the Chesapeake Bay and local governments and organizations in the region through the Gateways and Water Trails Network, authorized by the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998. This partnership system of 147 designated Chesapeake Bay Gateways serves to connect the American public with the resources and themes of the nationally significant Chesapeake Bay. Through its coordination of the network, the National Park Service is also authorized to provide technical and financial assistance to gateways for enhancing interpretation, improving public access, and stimulating citizen involvement in conservation and restoration efforts. All of these efforts would complement the proposed trail. S. 2568 provides for coordination of the trail with the Chesapeake Gateways and Water Trails Network and the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Our study of the feasibility of designating the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is nearing conclusion. In March 2006, the National Park System Advisory Board found the routes of John Smith’s voyages to be nationally significant, a major requirement in the finding of national trail feasibility. The Advisory Board concluded that the trail is of national significance for its association with the following themes: (1) Ethnic Heritage (American Indians); (2) Exploration and Settlement; and, (3) Commerce and Trade.
We expect to issue a draft report for public comment no later than August of this year. In light of this schedule, we would request that the committee defer action so that the study may be completed and the public given an opportunity to comment on any proposed designation alternatives. Our receipt of 167 letters regarding the study since it began indicates considerable public interest in trail designation.
The Department wishes to recognize the generous support of the State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission during the conduct of this study.
This concludes my prepared testimony, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or the committee might have.
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 2627, TO AMEND THE NATIONAL PARKS SYSTEM ADVISORY BOARD ACT.
MAY 16, 2006
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to provide the Department of the Interior’s comments on S. 2627, the National Park System Advisory Board Act of 2006, a bill to extend the authorization and improve the composition of board members of the National Park System Advisory Board (Board).
The Department supports S. 2627, which is similar to a proposal transmitted to Congress by the Administration on December 7, 2005. The Department wishes to thank Senator Domenici for sponsoring this legislation at the Department’s request.
The National Park System Advisory Board was first authorized in 1935 under the Historic Sites, Buildings and Antiquities Act. The Board advises the Director of the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior on matters relating to the National Park Service, including the administration of the Historic Sites, Buildings, and the Antiquities Act; the designation of national historic landmarks and national natural landmarks; and the national historic significance of proposed national historic trails. The Board may advise on matters submitted to the Board by the Director, as well as any other issues identified by the Board.
The Board’s membership consists of no more than 12 individuals selected from citizens of the United States having demonstrated commitment to the mission of the National Park Service, and representing various geographic regions, including each of the seven administrative regions of the National Park Service. The Board has provided exemplary service to the Director of the National Park Service and works cooperatively with the Director to ensure the preservation of this Nation’s important natural and historic places for future generations of Americans.
The Board is an active body currently engaged on a broad front of issues, meeting quarterly and consulting regularly with the Director. Recent accomplishments and ongoing efforts include:
• The Board regularly considers recommendations from its National Historic Landmarks Committee about properties the committee wishes the Board would recommend to the Secretary for designation as National Historic Landmarks.
• Last year, the Senate passed Senator Thomas’s “Heritage Partnership Act” (S. 234), which incorporated recommendations from a Board report. The Act would create a system of National Heritage Areas and clarify the relationship of those areas to the National Park Service.
• The Board just completed an advisory report to the Director recommending that the National Park Service undertake a series of pilot projects to test, measure and validate the premise that the national parks contribute to healthy lifestyle through active participation in park-based recreational activities. This report supports the President’s HealthierUS initiative and Executive Order 13266, which calls on federal agencies to increase the accessibility of resources for physical activity.
• In support of President Bush’s call to help, “restore civic and historical understanding throughout American Society,” the Board recently convened a panel of prominent American historians and scholars. The panel counseled the National Park Service about its education/interpretive mission and ways in which the program offered visitors at parks and historic sites can advance the President’s goal.
• Next week, the Board will review and advise the Director on the National Park Service’s proposed final revision of NPS Management Policies. Participating in this assessment will be several former National Park Service Directors and past Park Service senior executives.
S. 2627 proposes amending the Board’s statutory authorization in four areas. The first area would modify the membership to the Board. This would be done by requiring at least four members to have expertise in the fields of history, archeology, anthropology, historical or landscape architecture, biology, ecology, geology, marine science or social science; three members to have expertise and prior experience in management of National or State parks or protected areas or natural or cultural resources management; three members to have expertise in any other professional or scientific discipline important to the mission of the National Park Service; at least one member to have expertise in historic recreational opportunities within units of the National Park System; and at least one member to be an elected official from an area adjacent to or within close proximity to a unit of the National Park System. The second area would require that the Advisory Board members adhere to ethics and conflict of interest provisions by removing the current law’s exemption. The third area extends the authority of the Board to 2016. A fourth area of revision provides for technical amendments. The Department supports the amendments, which will increase the Board’s overall effectiveness and influence and improve clarity and ease of reference.
The National Park System Advisory Board is an invaluable partner of the Department as we both carry out the national vision that created the National Park System 90 years ago. Throughout that time, the Department and the Board have worked effectively and collegially together to enhance conservation efforts across the nation. The Department looks forward to continuing this relationship with the Board as we strive to position the NPS for its next 100 years.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or members of the committee may have.
STATEMENT OF STEVE MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. RES. 468, SUPPORTING THE CONTINUED ADMINISTRATION OF CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK, INCLUDING SANTA ROSA ISLAND, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS (INCLUDING REGULATIONS) AND POLICIES OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
May 16, 2006
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. Res. 468, supporting the continued administration of Channel Islands National Park, including Santa Rosa Island, in accordance with the laws (including regulations) and policies of the National Park Service.
Because S. Res. 468 is a Senate resolution that will not be signed into law, the Department is not taking a position on the resolution itself. However, the Department strongly agrees with the sentiment expressed by the resolution that the National Park Service (NPS) should continue to manage Channel Islands National Park, including Santa Rosa Island, in a manner that provides for protection of the park’s resources and their enjoyment by visitors to the islands.
S. Res. 468 calls for the NPS to manage Santa Rosa Island, part of Channel Islands National Park, in a way that protects and allows interpretation of the natural, scenic, and cultural resources of the island and provides visitors with a safe and enjoyable park experience. It further states that the NPS should not be directed to manage Santa Rosa Island in a manner that would result in the public being denied access to significant portions of the island or that would be inconsistent with the responsibility of the NPS to protect native resources within the park.
We understand that S. Res. 468 is in response to repeated attempts in recent years to allow deer and elk, and associated hunting operations, to remain on Santa Rosa Island indefinitely. The current effort in this regard is language included in H.R. 5122, the National Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2007, which requires the Secretary of the Interior to stop the plan to remove the deer and elk from the island as required by a court-ordered settlement agreement. This provision would effectively overturn the 1998 settlement agreement, that the NPS is legally bound to, that requires the phaseout of non-native deer and elk over several years and their complete removal from the island by the end of 2011. Until the deer and elk are removed and the hunting operation ends, most of the island will remain closed to the public for significant portions of each year.
Channel Islands National Monument was designated in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt under the authority of the Antiquities Act. In 1980, the monument was expanded to include additional islands, including the 54,000-acre Santa Rosa Island, and redesignated as Channel Islands National Park. The park’s purpose is to protect the nationally significant natural, scenic, wildlife, marine, ecological, archaeological, cultural, and scientific values of the five out of the eight California Channel Islands that comprise the park.
The question of whether to allow hunting in units of the National Parks System is decided by Congress on a case-by-case basis. Congress discussed the issue of the appropriateness of hunting on the Channel Islands during consideration of the legislation to redesignate Channel Islands National Monument as a national park in 1979 and 1980, and made a deliberate decision not to allow hunting there. We feel that this is still the appropriate decision today.
It is important to note that once it was determined that Santa Rosa Island was to be incorporated within Channel Islands National Park, Vail and Vicker’s, Ltd. (V&V) requested that Santa Rosa Island be the highest priority for acquisition by the NPS. This was reflected in the enabling legislation. In 1986, the NPS purchased Santa Rosa Island for $29.5 million from V&V, who retained a 25-year non-commercial reservation of use and occupancy covering a 7.6-acre area containing the ranch house and a nearby field. At the request of V&V, supported by members of Congress, the NPS issued a series of 5-year special use permits (SUPs) to allow V&V to continue their cattle ranching and elk and deer hunting operations.
In 1996, because of the impacts on endangered species and water quality issues, the National Parks Conservation Association sued the NPS. In 1997, V&V sued NPS to retain their current SUP and continue their operations until 2011. A three-way settlement agreement, entered into court in 1998, provided for removing the cattle by the end of 1998, which occurred on schedule, and for phasing out deer and elk, and removing them altogether by the end of 2011, when the V&V 25-year non-commercial reservation of the 7.6 acre ranch expires. The settlement agreement included two options under which hunting could continue. The parties chose the second option, which was to manage the deer and elk using adaptive management guidelines. Each year, the NPS, with recommendations from an agreed upon scientific panel, determines whether an accelerated reduction in either the deer or elk herds are necessary. Regardless of the management option, all deer and elk are to be removed by V&V no later than the end of 2011. At that time, V&V will be required to remove all their property, including any remaining deer and elk, which V&V owns.
It is necessary to end the hunting operation to open up the island for other recreational purposes, such as hiking, camping, and sightseeing, on a year-round basis. So long as a hunting operation continues, 90 percent of the island will be off limits for general recreation for four to five months of each year. After spending $29.5 million to purchase the island and more to restore native plants and animals, the NPS has been eager to make this spectacular island available for full-time enjoyment by the general public.
Santa Rosa Island is currently the most accessible of the five islands that are part of Channel Islands National Park. It is the island where the NPS can most easily and cost effectively welcome American citizens who have physical disabilities, including our men and women in uniform who have become disabled in the service to our Nation.
Removal of the non-native deer and elk is necessary for native plants and animals to flourish on Santa Rosa Island, and to ensure that efforts spent on restoration are not wasted. Channel Islands National Park has been in the forefront of the NPS’s efforts to control non-native species that out-compete the native species. The park has undertaken several successful ecological restoration programs. The eradication of introduced rats from Anacapa Island has resulted in the increased survivability of the Xantus’s murrelet. The removal of introduced rabbits, cattle, sheep, and mules from Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and San Miguel Islands has allowed for vegetation restoration. Park staff, local communities, the Nature Conservancy, and the Montrose Trustees, who worked together to reestablish the American bald eagle were recently rewarded with the first eaglet born on the northern Channel Islands in 50 years, on Santa Cruz Island. The NPS looks forward to more successes of this type in the Channel Islands, including Santa Rosa Island.
For all these reasons, the Department supports the continued implementation of the 1998 settlement agreement, so that the day will come, after 2011, when NPS will be able to manage Santa Rosa Island as Congress intended when Channel Islands National Park was established in 1980.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement. I will be happy to answer any questions you or members of the subcommittee may have.