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.
BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE,
CONCERNING S. 715,
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A PILOT PROGRAM
TO PROVIDE FOR THE PRESERVATION AND REHABILIATION OF HISTORIC LIGHTHOUSES.
JULY 22, 2009
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 715, a bill to create a pilot program to provide for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic lighthouses.
The Department was not able to determine a position on this legislation in time for this hearing.We will provide our position in a letter to the committee in the near future.
S. 715, titled the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act of 2009, would amend the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 470w et seq.) to create a three-year pilot program to provide financial assistance to non-profit organizations, States, or local government entities, for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic light stations, a significant component of our nation's maritime history.The proposed bill would bolster the effort to preserve these historic maritime structures already underway through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 (NHLPA).In addition, the bill would also provide financial resources and technical advice to the stewards of historic light stations.
Lighthouses are historic aids to nautical navigation and many are found in remote locations and all have an exposure to the extremes of weather. Such exposure promotes the deterioration of the historic fabric of the light station.And, the fact that these light stations have not been manned by the U. S. Coast Guard in decades has accelerated their rates of deterioration.
Under the NHLPA, the value associated with historic light stations is recognized by allowing them to be transferred at no cost to Federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations.The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 provides a mechanism for the disposal of historic light stations.Entities that receive light stations must make them available for education, park, recreation, cultural, or historic preservation purposes and provide public access. The program is a successful partnership among the U. S. Coast Guard, the General Services Administration, and the National Park Service. Forty-four historic light stations have been transferred through NHLPA to governmental agencies or community organizations that have agreed to take on the daunting task of preserving and maintaining these historic structures for the public good.These groups have stepped forth to preserve these icons of American history, which is no small commitment of both volunteer hours and private financial resources.
Mr. Chairman, we look forward to communicating with you about this bill after we have the opportunity for further consideration of its implications.