Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, VISITOR AND RESOURCE PROTECTION, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS
OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES,
CONCERNING H.R. 1545,
TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
TO CONDUCT A BOUNDARY STUDY TO EVALUATE
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF FORT SAN GERONIMO
AND OTHER RELATED RESOURCES IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO
AND THE SUITABILITY AND FEASIBILITY OF THEIR INCLUSION
IN THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM AS PART OF THE SAN JUAN NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE,
AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
OCTOBER 30, 2007
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to provide the Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 1545, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a boundary study to evaluate the significance of Fort San Geronimo and other related resources in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the suitability and feasibility of their inclusion in the National Park System as part of the San Juan National Historic Site, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 1545, with an amendment as stated in this testimony. However, the Department feels that priority should be given to the 35 previously authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic River System that have not yet been transmitted to the Congress.
Studies of this type typically take approximately three years to complete after funds are made available. We estimate the cost for this study to be approximately $250,000.
H.R. 1545 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary), in coordination with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, local governments, and other interested parties, to conduct a boundary study to evaluate the significance of Fort San Geronimo, as well as the suitability and feasibility of including the fort and related resources within the National Park System as a part of San Juan National Historic Site. The study would be required to be completed within one year after funds are made available.
San Juan National Historic Site includes forts San Cristóbal, San Felipe del Morro, and San Juan de la Cruz also called El Cañuelo, plus bastions, powder houses, and three fourths of the city wall. These historic forts were built by Spanish troops beginning in 1539 and they surround the old, colonial portion of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Several sections of the original Spanish fortification system were not included in San Juan National Historic Site. These sections include the South Wall, Fort San Gerónimo, the Escambrón Battery, the remains of the First Line of Defense, and the Tajamar Battery. Also, a section of the El Morro grounds, referred to as Parcel B, was transferred to the Commonwealth and the park currently manages it, but does not own it.
Fort San Gerónimo is not part of the San Juan National Historic Site and it is the only one of the four forts in the original fortification system that is not included. The U.S. Army transferred title of Fort San Gerónimo and adjacent land to the Navy Department in 1921and the Navy transferred the Fort to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1957. The fort is located adjacent to the Caribe Hilton Hotel and it has been used as the site of special functions and events. The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture is the agency with primary jurisdiction over the fort.
We recommend that the bill be amended to direct the Secretary to complete the study within three years after funds are made available. This would make the bill consistent with other, similar study bills.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or the other members of the subcommittee may have.