STATEMENT OF DR. HERBERT C. FROST, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, NATURAL RESOURCE STEWARDSHIP AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES CONCERNING H.R. 2336, A BILL TO AMEND THE WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS ACT TO DESIGNATE THE YORK RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES IN THE STATE OF MAINE FOR STUDY FOR POTENTIAL INCLUSION IN THE NATIONAL WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS SYSTEM.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2011
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 2336, a bill to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the York River and associated tributaries for study for potential inclusion in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Department supports enactment of this legislation. However, we feel that priority should be given to the 37 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 Rivers System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
The York River is located in the southwest corner of the State of Maine, not far from the New Hampshire border, in York County. H.R. 2336 specifies that the York River and its tributaries be included in the study, which will result in a watershed-based study focus, similar to other recent studies. The York River watershed drains 33 square miles located almost entirely in the communities of Eliot, Kittery, and York, and flows into the Gulf of Maine through York Harbor.
The York is a small, highly scenic, and very historic watershed. Navigable portions of the York and tributaries offer excellent recreation for small powerboats, canoes and kayaks. The ecological resources of the York and its importance to the Gulf of Maine have been recognized through the close association with the nearby Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. York Harbor and the York River were essential to the early commercial activity of the region and many important historic sites from the 18th and 19th Centuries have been documented and preserved.
Over the course of the past two years, the National Park Service has responded to interest and inquiries from local advocates and town officials regarding a potential Wild and Scenic River study for the York River. There appears to be strong local support for protecting the river system and for studying the river for potential inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Based on this local support and the presence of significant natural, cultural and recreational resources, the National Park Service believes that a Wild and Scenic River study conducted in close partnership with local communities and established partners is consistent with the purposes of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
This concludes my prepared remarks, Mr. Chairman. I will be happy to answer any questions you or other committee members may have regarding this bill.