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 OF THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE,
CONCERNING H.R. 3641, TO ESTABLISH PINNACLES NATIONAL PARK IN THE
STATE OF CALIFORNIA AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM, AND FOR
June 8, 2012
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 3641, a bill to establish Pinnacles National Park in the State of California as a unit of the National Park System, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 3641 with amendments. The bill would redesignate Pinnacles National Monument as Pinnacles National Park, expand existing park wilderness, and rename the wilderness in honor of an early park proponent.
H.R. 3641 would reestablish Pinnacles National Monument as Pinnacles National Park. Pinnacles National Monument encompasses 60 million years of geological and plate tectonic history, 4,000 years of California heritage from prehistoric to historic, and the range of the condor dating from the Pleistocene Epoch. The monument has truly extraordinary natural resources and has played a crucial role in the reintroduction of the California condor to its traditional range in California.
The bill would also add 2,715 acres to the designated wilderness within the monument and rename the Pinnacles Wilderness as the “Hain Wilderness.” Congress has recognized wilderness characteristics at Pinnacles by previously designating more than one-half of the monument's 27,000 acres as wilderness. The additional acreage is appropriate for wilderness designation and would enhance the NPS management of the existing wilderness. Several of the parcels were proposed by BLM for wilderness designation or as wilderness study areas prior to the transfer of the lands to NPS in 2000. Portions of the wilderness that would be designated by the bill would further protect wilderness values by matching the wilderness boundary with the park's authorized boundary. Overall, the bill "deepens" the wilderness area of the park, keeping the area as natural and wild as possible in the face of competing purposes and impacts. All of the proposed wilderness areas are "backcountry" and show little effect of human impact. The addition of these areas will enhance opportunities for solitude and wilderness recreation.
Naming the wilderness as the “Hain Wilderness” would commemorate the role played in the establishment of Pinnacles National Monument by immigrant homesteaders from Michigan who first arrived at the Pinnacles in 1886. The Hain families were farmers and community pioneers who established the first post office and county road. In 1893, Schuyler Hain conceived the idea of designating the Pinnacles as a public park or even a national park. Mr. Hain successfully championed the establishment of the Pinnacles Forest Reserve in 1906 and Pinnacles National Monument in 1908. The National Park Service considers it a high honor to be permanently commemorated in a unit of the national park system and seeks to reserve this honor for cases where there is a compelling justification for such recognition. We believe that there is a compelling justification in this case.
We recommend three amendments that are attached to this statement. Two of the amendments would provide consistency between the referenced maps and the legislation, and one would provide language typically used for wilderness designation bills for the submission and filing of the wilderness map and legal description.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to respond to any questions that
you may have.
Proposed Amendments for H.R. 3641, the Pinnacles National Park Act
Page 4, line 17: strike “ ‘Pinnacles National Park Proposed Designation Change', ” and insert “ ‘Proposed: Pinnacles National Park', ”.
Explanation: This amendment would conform the title of the map for the designation of Pinnacles National Park that is used in the bill to the title used on the referenced map.
Page 6, line 5: strike “2,905” and insert “2,715”.
Explanation: This amendment would conform the acreage number in the bill to the acreage number on the wilderness map referenced in the bill. The map entitled “Proposed Wilderness Additions to the Proposed Pinnacled National Park”, numbered 114/106,106 and dated November 2010 shows 2,715 acres, rather than 2,905.
Page 6, after line 12, insert a new subsection (c), as follows:
“(c) MAP AND DESCRIPTION.—
“(1) IN GENERAL.—As soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall file a map and legal description of the wilderness area designated by this section with the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate.
“(2) FORCE OF LAW.—A map and legal description filed under paragraph (1) shall have the same force and effect as if included in this section, except that the Secretary may correct errors in the map and legal description.
“(3) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.—The map and legal description filed under paragraph (1) shall be on file and available for public inspection in the appropriate offices of the National Park Service.”
Explanation: This amendment provides language that is usually used in wilderness designation bills for submitting wilderness maps and legal descriptions to the appropriate congressional committees and making them publicly available by the appropriate land management agency.