STATEMENT OF DANIEL N. WENK,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS
OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES,
CONCERNING S. 3158, TO EXTEND THE AUTHORITY
FOR THE CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE ADVISORY COMMISSION.
JULY 30, 2008
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 3158, to extend the authority for the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission.
The Department strongly supports enactment of S. 3158, which would amend Section 8(a) of Public Law 87-126 to extend the life of the 10-member Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission (commission) from 2008 until 2018. The Administration transmitted a similar proposal to Congress on May 19, 2008.
The commission was authorized in 1961, as part of the national seashore's enabling legislation and began operation in 1966. It has been legislatively and administratively reauthorized several times. The commission was last reauthorized for a ten-year period by Public Law 105-280 and is set to expire on September 26, 2008.
The commission is an exemplary example within the National Park System of a partner in cooperative land stewardship. Its purposes are to advise park management on questions relating to private land ownership and occupancy inside the boundaries of the national seashore, and on the management of recreational activities. Membership consists of one representative from each of the six lower cape towns, two representatives from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one representative from Barnstable County, and one representative of the Secretary of the Interior.
Cape Cod National Seashore, located in eastern Massachusetts, was authorized by Public Law 87-126 in 1961, and established in 1966 with a unique pattern of land ownership and management. The six lower cape towns, from whose lands the Cape Cod National Seashore was carved, retain ownership of numerous parcels within the park including ponds, beaches, parking lots and roads. In addition, more than 600 parcels inside the park are privately owned. Under a unique landowner arrangement, sometimes referred to as the "Cape Cod Formula," these parcels are expected to remain in private hands. However, activities on these lands can have profound effects on protected resources within the national seashore, creating a need for constructive and creative dialogue among landowners and park managers.
The Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission is a valuable asset that enhances communication between park managers and local communities and has established an excellent reputation as a facilitator of vital public/private dialogue. Frequent use of subcommittees dedicated to the exploration of specific questions allows local opinion leaders to remain involved. At the same time, it permits numerous parties to have direct access to park management through dozens of hours of consultation that park staff would be otherwise unable to support either individually or in public hearings.
The commission's state and local representatives participate actively, and they strongly support its continuation. The cost of administering the Commission is minimal, approximately $7,000 annually, and is covered by the park's operating budget.
Mr. Chairman that concludes my prepared remarks. I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.