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.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 4828, a bill to amend the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site Act of 1991 to expand the boundaries of the historic site, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 4828 with an amendment to provide the correct map reference for the boundary expansion.
H.R. 4828 would amend Public Law 102-304 to adjust the boundary of the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site (park) to include the addition of approximately 34 acres. The lands added to the boundary would remain under the ownership of the Brownsville Community Foundation (Foundation), Brownsville, Texas. The Foundation and the National Park Service (NPS) would co-manage and administer the lands added to the boundary through a cooperative agreement. There would be no acquisition costs associated with the boundary expansion and we estimate NPS's management, administrative, interpretive, resource protection, and maintenance costs to be approximately $200,000 annually. Additional infrastructure improvements would include an ADA accessible trail, a visitor parking lot, trail and pavilion benches, the resaca overlook, interpretive panels and replica cannons, an NPS sign, a security gate, and utilities at an estimated cost of $360,000.
The land proposed for addition to the park is known as 'Resaca de la Palma', a National Historic Landmark. Located approximately four miles south of the existing park boundary and in the Heart of the City of Brownsville, Texas, the land is closely connected to Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site, the only unit in the National Park System to commemorate the Mexican War, both historically and culturally.
Resaca de la Palma is the site of the second battle of the U.S. War with Mexico. The battle proved decisive for American forces and forced Mexican troops back across the Rio Grande River. The site is hallowed ground for many, including descendents of more than 214 individuals from the United States and Mexico who lost their lives at this site on May 9, 1846. After the battle, many visitors to Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma viewed the land as having been transformed by the bloody sacrifices made there. That sentiment remains today and many residents of Brownsville believe that both of the battlefields should be preserved to honor the memory of the soldiers who fought and died there.
Although the original battlefield at Resaca de la Palma extended over hundreds of acres, today only 34 acres remain undeveloped. In essence, Resaca de la Palma represents an oasis, surrounded by a developing city. In addition to its rich cultural heritage, these 34 acres provide habitat for migratory and resident birds and small mammals. The battlefield site also represents a typical but disappearing landscape of the Rio Grande delta and conserves native chaparral, prairie, and brush.
Resaca de la Palma is easily accessible to community members and visitors to the area. The 34 acres included in this boundary adjustment also represent a rare community green space that will be preserved. Existing structures include an interpretive trail and exhibits, a covered shelter, and a viewing platform overlooking the resaca, the literal translation of which is: the dry river bed of the palms.
The National Park System includes many successful examples of philanthropic efforts that have added immeasurably to the preservation of our nation's natural and cultural treasures. The partnership between the NPS and the Foundation to co-manage Resaca de la Palma is another successful example of this type of effort. Many hours have been donated toward preserving Resaca de la Palma by board members, the park, and individuals in the community. Additionally, several private and public organizations have donated time and money to ensure Resaca de la Palma remains protected and accessible to visitors. These include the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, the City of Brownsville, the Cameron County Sheriff Department, and the Texas Department of Transportation.
The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site 1988 General Management Plan proposed including Resaca de la Palma within the park's administrative boundary. This legislation would achieve that goal. However, without this legislation, the NPS would be limited in its ability to interpret, maintain, or manage the Resaca de la Palma area for future generations.
We suggest one amendment to H.R. 4828. On page 2, lines 6 and 7, the correct map information is: "entitled Palo Alto Battlefield NHS Proposed Boundary Expansion, numbered 469/80,012, and dated "May 21, 2008."
That concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer any questions that you or other members of the subcommittee might have.