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.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
Thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1473, which amends the Mesquite Lands Act of 1986 in order to renew the exclusive right of the City of Mesquite, Nevada, to purchase certain public lands for development, and allows for proceeds from land sales to be used to implement a habitat conservation plan for the Virgin River and any associated groundwater monitoring plan.The Department of the Interior supports the goals of the bill, however, we believe we can achieve the purposes of the bill administratively, such as through sales under the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) or the issuance of an airport lease.
The Mesquite Lands Act of 1986 (PL 99-548) as amended by PL 104-208, PL 106-113 and PL 107-282,has provided the City of Mesquite, a community located in eastern Clark County, Nevada, between Las Vegas and St. George, Utah, the exclusive right to purchase lands to its west for a replacement airport and related development.To date, the city has acquired approximately 7,700 acres of public lands from the BLM.These authorities expired on November 29, 2011.
In addition to identifying lands for sale, the Mesquite Lands Act, as amended, provides that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of certain parcels be deposited in an account established under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1998 (SNPLMA).It also provides that these funds would be available to pay for, among other things, the BLM's costs to convey land to the City of Mesquite and the development of a multispecies habitat conservation plan for the Virgin River, also in Clark County.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the BLM, has begun work on the plans for the Virgin River.These authorities also expired on November 29, 2011.
S. 1473 renews until November 29, 2021, the City of Mesquite's exclusive right to purchase parcels of public lands identified in the PL 106-113 amendment to the Mesquite Lands Act, which are near lands already acquired by the City.It also allows for the proceeds from previous land sales to Mesquite to be used to implement a multispecies habitat conservation plan for the Virgin River in Clark County and any associated groundwater monitoring plan.It also extends the withdrawal of the lands from all forms of location, entry and appropriation under the public land laws, including mining laws, and from operation of mineral leasing and geothermal leasing laws, subject to valid existing rights.
The BLM supports the bill and its goal of providing for the economic development needs of Mesquite, Nevada.Some of the lands that may be acquired through enactment of the bill have been identified for a proposed replacement airport and related development.The legislation will provide additional time for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to complete an environmental evaluation under the National Environmental Policy Act for the replacement airport and to identify mitigation measures, if necessary.The BLM is working with the FAA and the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office to develop appropriate measures to mitigate potential impacts to the Old Spanish National Historic Trail as a result of the proposed replacement airport. The additional time provided by this legislation will aid this effort.
That concludes our prepared testimony in support of S. 1473. We would be glad to answer your questions.