Hearings and Business Meetings

Jun 28 2005

10:00 AM

Subcommittee on National Parks

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:00 AM

Mr. Donald Murphy

Deputy Director , National Park Service

STATEMENT OF DONALD W. MURPHY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 556, A BILL TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE TO JOINTLY CONDUCT A STUDY OF CERTAIN LANDS ADJACENT TO THE WALNUT CANYON NATIONAL MONUMENT IN THE STATE OF ARIZONA.

 

JUNE 28, 2005

________________________________________________________________________

 

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the Administration’s views on S. 556, a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to jointly conduct a study of certain lands adjacent to the Walnut Canyon National Monument in the State of Arizona.    


The Administration does not object to the enactment of S. 556.  We also believe that any funding requested should be directed toward completing previously authorized studies.  Currently, 30 studies are in progress by the Department of the Interior, which hopes to complete and transmit 15 to Congress by the end of 2005

 

S. 556 directs the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture, utilizing a third party consultant, to jointly conduct a study of approximately 31,000 acres surrounding Walnut Canyon National Monument (monument). The study would evaluate how best to manage federal and State lands adjacent to the monument in the long term in order to protect the natural, cultural, and recreational values important to this area of Arizona.  The bill directs the Secretaries, as well as local land managers, the Flagstaff City Council and Coconino County Board of Supervisors to review and comment on the draft study.  The bill requires a report that includes findings, conclusions and recommendations for future management of the study area to be transmitted to Congress no later than 18 months after enactment.  We estimate the total cost of the study to be approximately $300,000, to be divided between the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

 

Walnut Canyon National Monument was established on November 30, 1915, by Presidential Proclamation with the specific purpose of preserving the prehistoric ruins of ancient cliff dwellings.  The monument was expanded in 1938 and 1996 and now occupies approximately 3,600 acres.  The purposes for which the area was originally established have expanded to include protection of natural and cultural resources that are known to be significant to contemporary native tribes and the ecological communities and geological resources that make the canyon an outstanding scenic resource.  The monument and the surrounding lands of the Coconino National Forest provide a significant natural sanctuary and greenbelt surrounding the city of Flagstaff.

 

The National Park Service released a Draft General Management Plan (GMP) for Walnut Canyon National Monument for public comment in 2003.  Many of the issues identified for resolution in S. 556 were also identified as needs in the Draft GMP. The plan is being revised to address comments about boundary issues and is expected to be finalized after completion of consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service in the next several months.  The archeological and prehistoric resources preserved in the monument are nearly pristine, and provide not only scientific opportunities but also challenges for preservation. 

 

For several years, local communities adjacent to the monument have debated how the land surrounding the monument would be best protected from future development.  A number of years ago, the Coconino County Board and the Flagstaff City Council passed resolutions concluding that the preferred method to determine what is best for the land surrounding the monument is by having a federal study conducted.  Included within the lands to be studied that surround the monument are approximately 2,000 acres of State trust lands. We should note that it is our understanding that Arizona law prohibits state lands to be donated and that the Arizona Supreme Court has determined that the Arizona Constitution prohibits the disposal of certain state land except through auction to the highest and best bidder.  Should the study’s conclusions involve these types of actions concerning state lands, we would have to await a determination on how the citizens of Arizona and their representatives would recommend proceeding.  

 

We understand the concern that National Forest System (NFS) lands between the Monument and the City of Flagstaff might eventually be sold or exchanged; allowing urban development to creep closer to the Walnut Canyon watershed, originally prompted local support for this proposed study.  The proposed study area is within two miles of the campus of Northern Arizona University and is a prime recreation area for students, as well as for Flagstaff area residents.  In fact, the area is the second most-used area for recreation in the greater Flagstaff area, behind only the San Francisco Peaks. 

The Forest Service has developed a Land Resource Management Plan for the Coconino National Forest, amended in early 2003, that closed the area to motorized access and removed the land encircling the Monument from consideration for sale or exchange.  The Flagstaff-area Regional Land Use and Transportation Plan (RLUTP), approved by the Flagstaff City Council and the Coconino County Board of Supervisors in 2002, limits growth and does not allow for development within the study area.   RLUTP specifically precludes two key sections of Arizona State Trust land between Flagstaff and the Monument as suitable for development.  Those lands are identified in the plan for open space and greenways.  These plans would be an important source of information to be considered during the study process.

 

If the Committee moves forward with S. 556, we suggest that the bill be amended in section 4(e) to make the report to Congress due 18 months after funds are made available.  Also Section 4 may need to be further amended to specify that the draft study be available for public comment, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and to remove any potential violations of the Recommendations Clause, U.S. Const. art. II, sec. 3, by clarifying that any recommendations to be made to Congress by the Secretaries would be discretionary rather than mandatory.  We will be happy to work with the Committee and the U.S. Department of Justice to develop alternate language for these portions of the bill. 

 

Thank you for the opportunity to present the Administration’s views on this bill.  That completes my remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

STATEMENT OF DONALD W. MURPHY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 588, A BILL TO AMEND THE NATIONAL TRAILS SYSTEM ACT TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE TO JOINTLY CONDUCT A STUDY ON THE FEASIBLITY OF DESIGNATING THE ARIZONA TRAIL AS A NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL OR A NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL.

 

JUNE 28, 2005

________________________________________________________________________

 

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. 588, a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to jointly conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Arizona Trail as a national scenic trail or a national historic trail. 


The Department supports S. 588 with an amendment regarding the appropriations language in the bill and an amendment which would require the map described in subparagraph (A) to also be made available for public inspection in the appropriate offices of the U.S. Forest Service.  However, while the Department supports the authorization of this study, we also believe that any funding requested should be directed toward completing previously authorized studies.  Currently, 30 studies are in progress, and we hope to complete and transmit 15 to Congress by the end of 2005.  We estimate the total cost of this study to be approximately $300,000, and recommend that paragraph D on Page 3 of the bill be amended to change the authorization to $300,000 with $150,000 made available to each Secretary. 

 

S. 588 directs the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to jointly conduct a study of the Arizona Trail which connects Arizona’s north and south borders across mountain ranges and deserts for approximately 790 miles.  The study would determine whether or not the trail would be eligible to be designated as a scenic or historic trail, joining the current system of 24 nationally designated scenic and historic trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968.  

 

These trails provide for outdoor recreation needs, promote the enjoyment, appreciation, and preservation of open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources, and encourage public access and citizen involvement.  If the feasibility study recommends designation as a national scenic or historic trail, an act of Congress adding the trail to the National Trails System may follow.  If the Arizona Trail were recommended for national trail designation, the study would also recommend the most effective and efficient management of the trail. 

 

National scenic trails are continuous, primarily non-motorized routes of outstanding recreational opportunity.  Although the National Trails System Act does not include specific criteria for assessing proposed national scenic trails, we suggest that the study team use the following five criteria in making their determination:

Significance:  There should be nationally significant cultural, historic, natural, recreational, or scenic features along the trail.

 

Length:  The trail should be at least 100 miles long and continuous.

 

Accessibility:  The trail should complement other trails and recreation areas, and provide access where possible to nearby urban areas.

 

Desirability:  There should be an anticipated need for the trail, and it should be capable of attracting visitors from across the nation.  It should offer an outstanding scenic and enjoyable outdoor recreational experience.  There should be extensive local and regional support for the project.

 

Trail Use:  National Scenic Trails should be designated for hiking and other compatible non-motorized uses.

 

 

National historic trails commemorate historic and prehistoric routes of travel that are of significance to the entire Nation.  There are three criteria that must be met to be recommended as a national historic trail.  The trail or route must be established by an historic use or determined to be historically significant as a result of that use; it must be of national significance with respect to any of several broad facets of American history and have had a far-reaching effect on broad patterns of American culture; and it must have significant potential for public recreational use or historic interest based on historic interpretation and appreciation.  From what we know of its characteristics, the Arizona Trail is more likely to meet the criteria for a scenic trail rather than an historic trail. 

 

If designated by Congress either as an historic or scenic trail, we suggest that an independent non-profit trail partner organization be created to partner with the federal agency chosen to administer the trail.

 

The Arizona Trail was conceived in 1985 as a continuous, 790-mile non-motorized trail from Mexico to Utah.  Approximately 85% of the trail crosses federal land, 10% crosses State lands, and the remainder of the trail crosses private, municipal or county lands.  The Trail was established as a primitive long-distance hiking, horseback, and mountain biking trail that links all of Arizona’s major physiographic zones (the mountains, canyons, deserts, forests, historic sites, and mesas) to local communities and Arizona’s major metropolitan areas.  The Arizona Trail’s significance is found in the diversity of resources, landscapes and recreational opportunities that it represents.

 

In 1993, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Arizona State Parks developed a cooperative agreement to work together to develop this non-motorized trail.  Since then more than 710 miles of trail have been opened to the public, maps and trail resource information have been developed, and routine trail maintenance has been carried out, while efforts continue to open the remaining 80 miles of trail.  In 1994, the non-profit Arizona Trail Association (ATA) was founded “to coordinate the planning, development, management, and promotion of the Arizona Trail for the recreational and educational experiences of non-motorized trail users.” 

 

The ATA has worked on a variety of issues and serves as the focal point for trail advocacy, preservation, planning and development.  ATA volunteers do trail maintenance, fund-raising and planning.  In all of their efforts, they work closely with landowners and local governments to assure that private property owners are aware of trail activities, and trail users respect property rights.  The ATA has quickly proven to be a vibrant, creative, resourceful, and dynamic group of 500 members coordinating more than 40,000 hours of volunteer labor per year, in recent years.

 

An important characteristic of all National Trails is the partnerships they generate.  The Arizona Trail already has strong regional, state and local advocates, all of whom have worked hard at creating and maintaining a trail featuring the incredible natural and cultural diversity of the State of Arizona.  The ATA has worked hard to raise funds and involve local communities, governments and businesses as they have worked to develop the trail.

 

With all these efforts already underway, we believe that conducting a feasibility study for national designation is a next, logical step in the management and protection of this important resource corridor across Arizona.  Although limited to one State, the Arizona Trail has already proven its recreational value to the nation.

 

Thank you again for the opportunity to present the Department’s views on S. 588.  That completes my remarks and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

STATEMENT OF DONALD W. MURPHY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 955, A BILLTO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO STUDY THE SUITABILITY AND FEASIBILITY OF DESIGNATING SITES RELATING TO THE BATTLE OF FRANKLIN IN WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE, AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM.

 

 JUNE 28, 2005

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 955, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to study the suitability and feasibility of designating sites relating to the Battle of Franklin in Williamson County, Tennessee, as a unit of the National Park System, and for other purposes.

 

The Department supports S. 955 with an amendment that would conform the bill to other, similar study bills.  While the Department supports the authorization of this study, we also believe that any funding requested should be directed toward completing previously authorized studies.  Currently, 30 studies are in progress, and we hope to complete and transmit 15 to Congress by the end of 2005.  We estimate the total cost of this study to be $250,000. 

 

S. 955 would authorize the Secretary to complete a study on the suitability and feasibility of designating sites relating to the Battle of Franklin as a unit of the National Park System.  The Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864, was a pivotal turning point of the Civil War.

 

After the fall of Atlanta in the summer of 1864, General John Bell Hood, commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, attempted to draw Union General William Tecumseh Sherman northward by threatening the Union supply line to Chattanooga. Hood sought to move the war out of Georgia in an effort to reclaim lost Confederate territory, most importantly Nashville.  Sherman followed Hood for only a short time, deciding to turn his attention back towards Georgia where he would soon embark on his “March to the Sea.”  In his stead, Sherman detached George H. Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland to protect Tennessee against Hood’s advance.

 

In November 1864, Hood pressed forward into Tennessee and confronted a Union force under the command of Major General John M. Schofield at Spring Hill.  After several skirmishes there Hood immediately followed Schofield to the small town of Franklin, which had been a Federal military post since the fall of Nashville in early 1862.  At Franklin, Schofield positioned most of his 28,000 men behind extensive breastworks covering more than two miles of mostly open fields.  Late in the afternoon on November 30, Hood, with an army of 18,000, hastily ordered a frontal assault against the well-positioned Union forces.  After five hours of fierce fighting, much of it after dark, the Union army soundly defeated Hood’s army which suffered 6,261 casualties, including the loss of 12 generals and 54 regimental commanders.  Among those killed was General Patrick Cleburne, considered by many historians to be the Confederacy’s top battlefield commander.  The Union’s casualties numbered 2,326.  With his army largely intact, Schofield ordered a nighttime withdrawal of Union forces to Nashville.

 

Although the Battle of Franklin was a major setback for the Confederates, Hood wasted little time, advancing his remaining forces to Nashville where on December 15 and 16, 1864, the Union Army of the Cumberland under Thomas swept Hood’s army from the field, essentially putting an end to the war in Tennessee.

 

In its 1993 report, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission identified the site of the 1864 Battle of Franklin as a "Class A" battlefield, representing a high level of military importance.  The commission reported that the site represents an area that had a decisive impact on a military campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war.  The commission also reported that the Franklin battlefield is currently a fragmented site with very little historical integrity remaining from the battle period.

 

There are many sites in and around the city of Franklin and nearby areas in Tennessee that have an association with the battle.  Perhaps most prominent among these are the many buildings that served as field hospitals to treat the wounded and dying such as the Carter House, which served as the Union army headquarters during the battle and was later used as a field hospital.  The house and outbuildings were purchased by the State of Tennessee in 1951, opened to the public in 1953, and is a Registered Historic Landmark.  The scars of war are visibly apparent as the buildings still show more than a thousand bullet holes from the battle.

 

We suggest one amendment in section 4 of the bill to have the study completed three years after funding is made available, rather than three years after enactment.  This will make the bill consistent with other similar study bills. 

 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.

 

 

 STATEMENT OF DONALD W. MURPHY, 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. 206, TO DESIGNATE THE ICE AGE FLOODS NATIONAL GEOLOGIC TRAIL

June 28, 2005

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 206, a bill to designate the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.


The Department opposes S. 206 in its current form.  Although we recognize the national significance of the geologic features in the Northwest caused by the Ice Age Floods, we believe that we can enhance the interpretation of these features, as described later in this testimony, without establishing a new entity within the National Park Service or spending Federal funds on development of interpretive sites or land acquisition. Devoting limited National Park Service funds to those purposes would detract from the Administration’s priority of reducing the deferred maintenance backlog in existing units of the National Park System.

The cataclysmic floods that occurred 12,000 to 17,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, were some of the largest ever documented by geologists.  These floods, which were caused by the ice and water bursting through ice dams at Glacial Lake Missoula, left a lasting mark of geologic features on the landscape of parts of Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, and have affected the pattern of human settlement and development in parts of the Northwest.

In 2001, a study team headed by the National Park Service and composed of 70 representatives of a broad range of public and private entities, concluded a two-year special resource study of the Ice Age floods.  The study found that the floods features met the criteria for national significance and suitability for addition to the National Park System, but that the size, breadth, and multitude of ownerships throughout the study region make the area not feasible to consider for a traditional national park, monument, or similar designation.  However, the study found that it is feasible to interpret the floods story across the affected areas.  It evaluated four management alternatives that would each provide a collaborative and coordinated approach for the interpretation of the Ice Age floods story to the public.  The study’s preferred alternative called for Congressional designation of the floods pathways as a national geologic trail and authorization of National Park Service management of the trail in coordination with public and private entities. 

S. 206 would largely implement the study’s preferred alternative.  It would designate the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, to be managed by the National Park Service, along floods pathways. The trail would be an auto tour route along public roads and highways linking floods features starting in the vicinity of Missoula in western Montana, going across northern Idaho, through eastern and southern sections of Washington, across northern Oregon in the vicinity of the Willamette Valley and the Columbia River, to the Pacific Ocean. 

While the Department believes that the proposed auto tour route highlighting floods features is a viable concept, we do not support establishing a new program within the National Park Service to lead this effort.  Although the study called for sharing the cost of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail among a variety of public and private sources, it estimated that under the alternative that S. 206 would implement, the role that National Park Service would play would cost about $500,000 per year in operating expenses.  The study also suggested that the share of capital development costs for the trail from all Federal sources might run between $8 million and $12 million over a period of several years.   

The study assumed that State and local governments would pay for parcels of land needed for improvements such as roadside pullouts and wayside exhibits where rights-of-way proved inadequate, so it did not suggest a Federal contribution toward land acquisition.  However, S. 206 would authorize the National Park Service to acquire up to 25 acres of land, which would entail additional Federal expenditures.  

Rather than establishing a new entity for the purpose of interpreting the Ice Age Floods, we recommend amending S. 206 to provide for expansion of interpretation of floods features at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, an existing unit of the National Park System located in the State of Washington about midway along the route of the trail proposed by S. 206.  Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area contains the lake formed by Grand Coulee Dam, built across one of the coulees formed by the Ice Age Floods. The floods are the primary natural history interpretive theme at Lake Roosevelt.  The recreation area also assists Washington State Parks in interpretation at Dry Falls State Park, one of the most significant floods features along the proposed trail.  As part of an enhanced interpretation program, the park could, for example, make available to park visitors information about other floods features in the four-state region covered by the proposed trail.

The National Park Service is involved in two other efforts, both in Wisconsin, to preserve and interpret the landscapes resulting from the last advance of continental glaciers—the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve and the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.  The national scientific reserve, authorized in 1964, preserves outstanding features of the glacial landscape that are owned and managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and is an affiliated area of the National Park System.  The Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin, authorized in 1980 as a part of the National Trails System, is a 1,200-mile hiking trail that traces glacial landscape features left by the advance and melting away of the last continental glaciers during the Wisconsin Glaciation approximately 15,000 years ago.   This scenic trail is a hiking trail and differs from auto tour route that is proposed to be established in this bill as the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

In addition to expanding interpretation at Lake Roosevelt, the National Park Service could devote resources from other existing programs to promoting education and interpretation of sites associated with the floods.  For example, the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program could provide technical assistance to State and local entities that want to enhance interpretation of sites in their areas.  And, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places program could develop Ice Age Floods as one of its “Discover Our Shared Heritage” on-line travel itineraries.  In addition, other National Park Service units in the vicinity of the proposed trail, such as the new Lewis and Clark National Historical Park which includes areas along the lower Columbia River, could be brought into the effort to promote interpretation of floods features.     

As the National Park Service’s study suggested, interpretation of the floods should involve a collaborative and coordinated approach involving a broad range of public and private entities.  One of the management alternatives considered by the study was having the state legislatures of Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon designate representatives to a four-state commission that would promote the coordinated interpretation of the floods story at the state and local level.    We think that is an option that merits a second look.  In addition, with or without a state-sponsored commission, tourist organizations could form a four-state consortium to generate interest in visiting these sites.  The Ice Age Floods Institute, a non-profit scientific organization devoted to increasing understanding of the story of the Ice Age Floods, has played and will continue to play a large role in promoting public education about the floods.
              
We would be happy to work with the committee to develop the appropriate language for amending S. 206 to provide for expanded interpretation of Ice Age Floods features by Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area rather than designation of a new national entity and establishment of a new program managed by the National Park Service.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement.  I would be pleased to answer any questions that you or other members of the committee may have.