STATEMENT OF VICTOR KNOX, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS, COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CONCERNING H. R. 3100, TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO EXPAND THE BOUNDARY OF THE SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, TO CONDUCT A STUDY OF POTENTIAL LAND ACQUISITIONS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
May 17, 2012
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. 3100, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to expand the boundary of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, to conduct a study of potential land acquisitions, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R 3100.
H.R. 3100 would amend Section 201 of Public Law 95-629, the enabling legislation for San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (Park), for two purposes. First, it would direct the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to conduct a study of lands in Bexar and Wilson Counties to identify lands that would be appropriate to include within the boundaries of the Park. Second, it would expand the boundary of the Park by approximately 151 acres.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park preserves a significant link to Mexico and Spain that has influenced the culture and history of the United States since before its inception. San Antonio is now the seventh-largest, third-fastest growing city in the United States. The city grew 68 percent between 1980 and 2007 and now almost entirely surrounds the Park with urban development, threatening areas that contain significant Spanish colonial resources historically associated with the Park. Based on the Park's General Management Plan and Land Protection Plan, which found that numerous areas containing significant Spanish colonial resources historically associated with the Park were outside the boundary, the Park has acquired a portion of those resources that now need to be included in the boundary. The Park's most recent feasibility study recommended a much larger area to best protect the cultural resources associated with the Park.
H.R. 3100 would expand the boundary of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park by approximately 151 acres, of which 132 acres are either currently owned by the National Park Service (NPS), or are being donated to the park.The remaining 19 acres are currently, and will continue to be, managed through a cooperative agreement with the land owners, the city of San Antonio and Bexar County. The management of these 19 acres will protect the cultural landscape, ensure public access, and provide for greater interpretation of the historical and architectural values of the park.
The Park's authorizing legislation allows the acquisition of new lands outside the Park boundary and allows the Park to enter into cooperative agreements to preserve historic properties and provide for visitor access and interpretation. However, the Park does not have authority to include those lands in the Park boundary, which is why this legislation is necessary. Because the park currently manages the 151 acres that would be included in the boundary, H.R. 3100 will not result in increased operational costs
H.R. 3100 also directs the Secretary to conduct a study of lands within Bexar and Wilson counties, in the State of Texas, to identify lands that would be suitable for inclusion within the boundaries of the park and denote lands that could be acquired by donation. In conducting the study, the Secretary would be required to estimate the costs of potential land acquisitions and operations associated with managing those new lands. The study would also explore management alternatives that would best ensure public access, preservation, protection, and interpretation of the Missions. We estimate that this study will cost approximately $350,000.
This legislation enjoys the support of officials from Bexar County, Wilson County, the City of San Antonio, the City of Floresville, the San Antonio River Authority, the San Antonio Conservation Society, Los Compadres, and others. It would help guarantee the preservation, protection, restoration, and interpretation of the missions for current and future generations.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my prepared remarks. I would be happy to answer any questions you or any other members of the Subcommittees may have.