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.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee. My name is Jodi Gillette. I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior (Department). I am here today to provide the Department's position on H.R. 1461, the Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act.
The Administration strongly supports the principles of self-determination and self-governance, and recognizes that intrinsic to these principles is tribal control over tribal resources. Like tribal homelands, water is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of Native people, and tribal governments are in the best position to determine how their water will be used. Accordingly, the Department supports H.R. 1461 with the amendments discussed below.
H.R. 1461 would enable the Mescalero Apache Tribe to lease its adjudicated and quantified water rights for use within the State of New Mexico for up to 99 years. The term "adjudicated water rights" is defined as those rights adjudicated to the Tribe in State v. Lewis, 861 P. 2d 235 (N.M. Ct. App. 1993). In leasing its adjudicated water rights, the Tribe would have to comply with New Mexico laws and regulations. In addition, the bill expressly states that the Tribe may not permanently alienate any of its adjudicated water rights.
The ability to lease water rights under H.R. 1461 is consistent with the Department's long-standing support for leasing quantified water rights recognized in Indian water rights settlements. Leasing is an important and acceptable way for which tribes may achieve economic value from use of their resources. The Department believes that the policy on approval of water leases should parallel aspects of its policies on approving leases of land. The Department recommends including language in the bill that provides that the Tribe shall develop a tribal water leasing code and submit such code to the Secretary of the Interior for approval. The tribal water leasing code should include provisions under which the tribe would identify and mitigate impacts that could potentially result from water leasing. Following this one-time approval of a tribal water leasing code, the Tribe would then have the authority to approve its own leases of water. In addition, the Department recommends that language should be added clarifying that the bill applies to water leases off the Tribe's reservation.
This concludes my prepared statement. I will be happy to answer any questions the Subcommittee may have