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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs
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H.R. 276 - Public Land Use Bills




Statement of

Jim Hughes

Acting Director

Bureau of Land Management

Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee

Subcommittee on Public Lands & Forests

H.R. 276, Piedras Blancas Historic Light Station Outstanding Natural Area Act

May 3, 2007

Thank you for inviting me to testify on H.R. 276, the Piedras Blancas Historic Light Station Outstanding Natural Area Act which would designate the Piedra Blancas Light Station as an Outstanding Natural Area (ONA) within the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS).  The Department supports H.R. 276. 

Background

The 18-acre Piedras Blancas Light Station sits on the coastal side of California scenic route 1 (California Coastal Highway) near Hearst Castle halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  It is an active lighthouse which began continuous operation in 1875 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Formerly run by the Coast Guard, it has been managed by the BLM since 2001.  Today, in addition to its safety role, the Light Station is a beacon of community support and activism. 

The proposed Piedras Blancas Historical Light Station ONA is adjacent to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, administered by NOAA.  The designation of the Piedras Blancas Light Station would provide a compatible and valuable shore-based presence for this important national treasure and promote historical and educational opportunities consistent with the NLCS. 

Community partnerships and an active volunteer force have allowed the BLM to begin the important work of restoration of the light station.  Over 80 volunteers are actively involved in Piedras Blancas projects contributing 8,000 hours of service over each of the last three years.  With strong local community support our partners include:  The Friends of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, Hearst San Simeon Historic Monument, California State Parks, the Central Coast Maritime Museum, the Cambria Historical Society and a wide-range of other federal, state and local governmental agencies.  In addition, monthly tours of the light station are being conducted in conjunction with Hearst Castle. 

H.R. 276

H.R. 276 recognizes both the historical significance of the Piedras Blancas Light Station and the community support for its preservation.  By designating the light station as an Outstanding Natural Area, the bill follows in the footsteps of the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area along the Oregon coast established by Congress in 1980.  In order to safeguard the buildings and public lands immediately surrounding them the bill provides protections for the area while encouraging and enabling active community support and involvement.  In addition, the bill recognizes the importance of administering this area for educational, scientific uses as well as for traditional Native American purposes. 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of H.R. 276.  I will be happy to answer any questions.