Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
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.
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
H.R. 686, Utah National Guard Readiness Act
May 4, 2011
Thank you for inviting me to testify on H.R. 686, the Utah National Guard Readiness Act. The Department does not oppose the conveyance of the lands identified in H.R. 686 to the State of Utah for homeland security or national defense purposes. However, we would like the opportunity to work with the Committee on modifications to the reversionary clause and the map referenced by the legislation.
Camp W. G. Williams is located approximately 25 miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah, in an area of expanding residential development. The 24,000-acre base is a National Guard training site administered by the Utah Army National Guard and includes training facilities for a variety of military purposes. Approximately 18,000 acres of the base are comprised of public land that has been withdrawn for the benefit of the United States Army as a training facility for the Utah Army National Guard under the provisions of Executive Order 1922 and Title IX of Public Law 101-628, the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990.
H.R. 686 directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey to the State of Utah, at no cost, approximately 431 acres of the 18,000-acre withdrawal. Those 431 acres are to be used by the Utah Army National Guard. The legislation includes a reversionary clause to return the land to the ownership of the United States if attempt is made to sell the land or use the land for non-National Guard or non-national defense purposes.
Because the public lands proposed for conveyance are currently withdrawn for the benefit of the United States Army, a portion of the overall withdrawal to the Army is revoked by this legislation in order that the lands may be appropriately conveyed. We defer to the Department of Defense on the partial revocation of the underlying withdrawal.
The Department generally does not oppose this conveyance at no cost because the legislation provides that the land conveyed must continue to be used for important national security and defense purposes. However, we would note that these lands are already withdrawn for military uses to the U.S. Army for use by the Utah National Guard. It is unclear why it is necessary to convey these lands directly to the State of Utah for use by the National Guard.
We would like to work with the Sponsor and the Committee on modifications to the reversionary clause. Specifically, the reversionary clause language is complicated, nonstandard, and would be difficult for the Department of the Interior to oversee. We would like to discuss placing responsibility for the reversionary interest with the Department of Defense in order to ensure that the land is only used for national security or homeland defense purposes.
Additionally, we would like to provide a new map to be referenced in the legislation. The BLM in Utah completed work in 2008 that corrected past survey problems, and we would like to incorporate this up-to-date, accurate information in a new map. Furthermore, the Department of Justice advises us of a necessary modification to section 2(b) of the bill, which they want to address with the Sponsor and the Committee. Finally, we have some minor technical modifications we would like to address.
Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on H.R. 686.