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 David Murillo, Deputy Commissioner, Operations
Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Department of the Interior
Committee on Energy & Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Water and Power
United States Senate
May 19, 2011
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am David Murillo, Deputy Commissioner of Operations of the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). Thank you for the opportunity to provide the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 201, legislation specific to lands underlying the C.C. Cragin Dam, Reservoir and utility corridor (C.C. Cragin project) in Arizona. The legislation seeks to clarify federal jurisdiction with respect to the C.C. Cragin project, which includes a dam, reservoir, and 11.5-mile utility corridor containing a transmission line and high-pressure pipeline. The project is located nearly entirely within the Coconino National Forest in north-central Arizona.
Language included in the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA, Public Law 108-451) created questions about the respective jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) and Reclamation related to the C.C. Cragin project. We have come to an agreement that we think can resolve this issue. This legislation is consistent with that arrangement. We look forward to continue working with the Committee on reaching a resolution.
Reclamation and the Forest Service worked closely with the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (SRP), the entity that operates and maintains the C.C. Cragin project under the AWSA, and reached agreement in mid-2010 on legislation to clarify jurisdiction of the Federal agencies. The legislation, S. 1080, was considered during the 2nd session of the 111th Congress. The bill was not enacted during the last Congress, but both S. 201 and its companion bill, H.R. 489, contain the same provisions as S. 1080, as reported.
This legislation accommodates the needs of Reclamation and SRP by ceding exclusive administrative jurisdiction over the lands underlying the C.C. Cragin project to Reclamation and by expressly acknowledging SRP's responsibility for operating and maintaining the C.C. Cragin project pursuant to the AWSA and the 1917 agreement between the Department and SRP. This is a unique situation due to the AWSA.In addition, this approach accommodates the Forest Service by allowing the agency to manage the lands underlying the utility corridor with respect to recreation, wildfire, law enforcement, and other activities consistent with the Forest Service's authorities, responsibilities, and expertise; the AWSA; the 1917 agreement; and the existing right-of-way over the utility corridor held by another party. This approach would allow for integrated management of tens of thousands of acres of ecosystems across National Forest System lands underlying and adjacent to the C.C. Cragin project, including watershed, wildlife habitat, range, and vegetation management. S. 201 allows for a workable agreement for both day-to-day activities and other activities that will improve the management and safety of the covered land. The Administration believes that this legislation provides a sound approach for future management of the C.C. Cragin project. Both Reclamation and the Forest Service are committed to working diligently with SRP to ensure needed work for the C.C. Cragin project can be accomplished expeditiously, including any necessary emergency and non-emergency repairs and replacement of improvements, in full compliance with applicable law, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, as provided in the AWSA.
Reclamation's long-standing experience working with SRP over nearly a century has been very productive. SRP has proven to be a responsible and reliable operator and caretaker of U.S. interests and resources. Reclamation and SRP have nearly a century of responsible stewardship in regard to both the technical operation of dams and reservoirs and protection of natural resources. It is our hope that combining that history with the Forest Service's land management authorities and expertise would result in even more effective stewardship.
This concludes my testimony. I will be pleased to answer any questions.