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.
To Authorize the Secretary of the Interior to Convey Title to
Certain Lands and Facilities of the McGee Creek Project
February 28, 2008
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Robert J. Quint, Director of Operations for the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to appear before this Subcommittee to provide testimony on S. 177, legislation to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey certain lands and facilities of the McGee Creek Project in Oklahoma to the McGee Creek Authority (Authority). The Administration supports this bill and we thank the committee for considering it today.
The Department of the Interior has an active title transfer program and supports transferring ownership of certain Reclamation project facilities to non-Federal entities. Initial discussions on this transfer began in 1997, and Reclamation and the McGee Creek Authority have been working collaboratively to lay the groundwork for this title transfer since that time. Reclamation and the Authority entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in 1998 for the purpose of defining the activities and responsibilities necessary to move forward with the proposed transfer. Before the transfer could be finalized and the necessary legislation could be proposed, the agreement expired in September 2002. In 2006, the Authority again expressed interest in the transfer and in April of that year, a new MOA was executed.
Through cooperative efforts with the Authority, all elements required by Reclamation for title transfer have been successfully addressed for the McGee Creek project. The Authority has provided funding for Reclamation to complete the necessary environmental, legal, and historic preservation documentation for this transfer, including a Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact, concurrence from the State Historic Preservation Officer, a hazardous materials clearance, and conveyance documents.
The costs of the lands, buildings and facilities to be transferred have already been repaid pursuant to the Authority's original repayment contract. All of the lands to be transferred were acquired by Reclamation when the project was built and the original repayment contract incorporated acquisition costs together with the costs associated with the construction of the project facilities and associated easements, lands and buildings. There are no ongoing revenue streams associated with these lands and facilities. As such, no additional payment for this transfer is required.
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 Authority.
Again, we support passage of S. 177 and thank the subcommittee for holding this hearing. It reflects a cooperative and cost effective process that will provide a benefit to the Authority and Reclamation.
This concludes my testimony and I would be pleased to answer any questions.