Visit Arches and discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets.
A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,310' Denali. Wild animals large and small roam un-fenced lands, living as they have for ages. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await.
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.