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).
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN E. WHITESELL, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS, OF THE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING H.R. 290, TO AMEND TITLE 36, UNITED STATES CODE, TO ENSURE THAT MEMORIALS COMMEMORATING THE SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES MAY CONTAIN RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
May 4, 2011
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 H.R. 290, to amend title 36, United States Code, to ensure that memorials commemorating the service of the United States Armed Forces may contain religious symbols, and for other purposes.
H.R. 290 would amend chapter 21 of title 36, United States Code, to allow religious symbols to be included as part of either a military memorial that is established or acquired by the United States Government, or a military memorial not established by the United States Government, but for which the American Battle Monuments Commission (Commission) cooperated in the establishment of the memorial. H.R. 290 also defines a military memorial as a memorial or monument commemorating the service of the United States Armed Forces, including works of architecture and art.
The National Park Service administers military memorials in the District of Columbia, which are subject to the Commemorative Works Act, and in other parts of the country. However, the Department would defer to the Commission for a position on H.R. 290 to the extent it involves memorials administered by the Commission or for which the Commission cooperated in the establishment. H.R. 290 may also affect memorials administered by the Department of Defense who should have the opportunity to offer their views. Additionally, the Department defers to the Department of Justice as to any potential First Amendment questions raised by H.R. 290.
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.