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).
Coral Reef Conservation; Northern Mariana Islands Land Transfer: HR 934
Nikolao I. Pula, JR.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs
House Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Insular affairs, Oceans and wildlife
a Bill to Convey Certain Submerged Lands to the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Order to Give that
Territory the Same Benefits in its Submerged Lands as Guam,
The Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have in their Submerged Lands
February 25, 2009
Madam Chair and members of the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss H.R. 934. I am Nikolao Pula, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs.
H.R. 934 would give the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) authority over its submerged lands from mean high tide seaward to three geographical miles distant from its coast lines.
The Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
in Political Union with the United States of America defines the unique relationship between the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States, recognizing U.S. sovereignty but limiting, in some respects, the applicability of federal law. Under the Covenant, the submerged lands off the coasts of the Northern Mariana Islands did not transfer to the CNMI when the Covenant came into force. This was subsequently confirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court in the case of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands v. the United States of America.
As a result, CNMI does not own the submerged lands within three miles of its shores, unlike the states and territories that have been granted submerged lands by the Submerged Lands Act and the Territorial Submerged Lands Act, respectively. Consequences of this decision are that CNMI cannot authorize and control the development of the natural resources or enforce its laws within these three miles.
The Department of the Interior, therefore, supports enactment of H.R. 934.