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.
Assistant Director for Mineral, Realty & Resource Protection
Bureau of Land Management
House Committee on Natural Resources
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
H.R. 2246, Reno, Nevada Land Conveyance Validations
October 23, 2007
Thank you for inviting me to testify on H.R. 2246, a bill to validate certain conveyances made by the Union Pacific Railroad Company of lands located in Reno, Nevada. While we do not oppose a legislative solution to the questions surrounding the Federal government's interest in certain lands in downtown Reno, we believe that the goals of H.R. 2246 can be achieved using a simpler approach, and we would like to work with the sponsor and the subcommittee to reach a more appropriate solution.
In the mid-19th century, the Congress sought to encourage the development of the West by providing incentives for transcontinental railroads. Among those incentives was the Act of July 1, 1862, authorizing a transcontinental railroad to be built by the Union Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company. As part of that authorization, the railroad was granted a right-of-way across public lands. One small piece of that right-of-way is addressed in H.R. 2246.
The status of these rights-of-way has been an ongoing issue before Congress since the late 19th century. In a May 3, 2006, report entitled "Federal Railroad Rights of Way" prepared by the Congressional Research Service; the issue was described as follows:
Although the courts have struggled at times to articulate the nature and scope of the interest held by a railroad, the cases are clear that the right of way interest, whether limited fee or easement, is conditioned on the continued use of the right of way for railroad purposes, although that phrase may be broadly construed.
A portion of the Union Pacific rail line authorized under the 1862 Act runs through downtown Reno, Nevada. As an active rail line, there was increasing concern about safety and traffic flow issues. The city of Reno found a creative solution in the form of the ReTrac (Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor) project, and in late 2005, the first trains began to run on a 2-mile long, 54-foot wide, 33-foot deep, train trench through downtown Reno. Unfortunately, there have been some questions raised about whether the right-of-way given to the railroad under the 1862 Act is affected by the subsurface nature of these two miles of line. In addition, it is unclear whether the Federal government retains a reversionary interest in the corridor. H.R. 2246 attempts to clarify this issue.
We believe H.R. 2246 is unnecessarily complex. In addition, the bill asks the Federal government to validate certain conveyances between non-federal parties. We believe that a far simpler approach would be to release any reversionary interest the Federal government may have to the lands granted to Union Pacific under the Act of 1862 within the subsurface corridor. This would include portions of sections 10, 11 and 12 of T. 19 N., R. 19 E, in Reno Nevada. We would be happy to work with Congressman Heller and the subcommittee on language that would achieve this goal.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I would be happy to answer any questions.