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).
TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO CARRY OUT A STUDY
TO DETERMINE THE SUITABILITY AND FEASIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING
CAMP HALE AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM.
July 22, 2009
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the Department of the Interior's views on S. 1418 and H.R. 2330, the Camp Hale Study Act.The U.S. Forest Service ( White RiverNational Forest) currently manages CampHale as a part of the National Forest System.
The Department supports both S. 1418 and H.R. 2330, with an amendment to section two to include the US Forest Service in a joint study with the National Park Service for the future management of Camp Hale and to delete section three.However, we feel that priority should be given to the 47 previously authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic River System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
S. 1418 and H.R. 2330 are almost identical and both bills would authorize the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary), to conduct a special resource study to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating Camp Hale as a unit in the National Park System.The study would also determine the methods and means for protection and interpretation of the CampHale site by the National Park Service, other federal, State, or local government entities, or private or nonprofit organizations.Not later than three years after funds are made available, the Secretary is directed to submit the results and recommendations of the study to Congress.The bill includes language to assure the study would not impact valid existing water rights in place upon the date of enactment.S. 1418 also specifies that the study would not impact the ability to construct and operate infrastructure necessary to develop and use those water rights.We estimate that this study will cost approximately $300,000.
Located in and managed by the White RiverNational Forest, in west-central Colorado, CampHale was established in 1942 to provide winter and mountain warfare training during World War II, because of the natural setting of a large, flat valley bottom, surrounded by steep hillsides suitable for training in skiing, rock climbing and cold weather survival skills. The size of CampHale varied between 5,000 and 247,243 acres when it was an active military installation.
Managed by the US Forest Service ( White RiverNational Forest), The Camp Hale Formerly Used Defense Site, is now used year-round by the public as a recreation area and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since the time CampHale was used for military training, there have been numerous discoveries of unexploded ordinance (UXO) there. As recently as 2003, during efforts to contain a wildfire, UXO used during the training of U.S. troops in World War II was found on the site.
Efforts to remediate public risk from any remaining UXO at CampHale continue. The funding for any response actions at CampHale will depend on how the UXO sites there rank nationally.Depending on that rank, and available federal dollars, the remedial investigations for some or all CampHale munitions may not occur for several years. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has discussed evaluating the hazard liabilities and remediating the site with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to a transfer.
The story of CampHale and the men and women who trained there reflects the adaptability our nation showed during the last World War.Many of those who trained there went on to develop alpine skiing as a recreational activity, significantly influencing the economy of Colorado and many other western States.Studying and determining how best to preserve and protect CampHale and to commemorate the sacrifice and heroism so many Americans exhibited as a result of their training is laudable.
We suggest that both bills be amended in section two to include the US Forest Service in the study to determine the future of CampHale and to remove section three, which includes language concerning water rights.The study recommended in both bills would examine the suitability and feasibility of designating CampHale as a unit in the National Park System, including evaluating all current uses and rights associated with the land.Since the bill only authorizes a study of the site, there is no possibility of the study having any affect on any water rights.As such, we believe the water rights language in both bills is unnecessary and redundant and we recommend the section be deleted.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks.I would be happy to answer any questions you or any other members of the subcommittee may have.