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.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Robert Johnson, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to be here today to provide the Administration's views on H.R. 3323, the Goleta Distribution System Conveyance Act of 2007, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey a certain federally-owned water distribution system of the Cachuma Project in California to the Goleta Water District. The Administration supports H.R. 3323.
H.R. 3323 would transfer title of the federally owned distribution system associated with the Cachuma project that is within the boundaries of the Goleta Water District, Goleta, California. The features that would be transferred to the Goleta Water District include 59 miles of pipelines and laterals, two pump stations and regulating features, associated structures, and lands and rights of way. The proposed transfer would apply only to land and facilities and would not affect the District's existing water service contract with Santa Barbara County Water Agency or the Federal Government receipts from water deliveries under that contract.
The Goleta Water District has operated and maintained this distribution system since 1952 and fully met its repayment obligation in 2002. This title transfer will enable the district to gain greater local control of the distribution facilities that were constructed for their use. It will also eliminate the need for some administrative obligations that exist for the District. For example, once title is transferred, the district will no longer be required to seek approval from Reclamation for easements, crossing permits, or work on the facilities.
In addition, this title transfer protects the financial interest of the United States. Transferring title to these facilities will reduce a number of administrative burdens on Reclamation including periodic facility reviews that are currently required because it is a Reclamation owned facility, and the processing of paperwork that currently consumes significant staff time. It will also ensure that long term responsibility for the operation, maintenance, management, and regulation, as well as liability, for the transferred lands and facilities will rest with the District.
The process and cooperative approach used to negotiate and develop this transfer should be a model for future title transfers throughout the West. Reclamation and the District have worked effectively and cooperatively throughout this process to address the elements required for title transfer. We thank the District and Representative Capps for their work on this transfer and look forward to continuing to work with them as the process draws to a close.
Madam Chairwoman, thank you for your consideration of this bill. That concludes my testimony and I would be pleased to answer any questions.