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.
S. 2479, Moapa Band of Paiutes Land Conveyance Act
July 9, 2014
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on S. 2479, which directs that approximately 26,565 acres of public land in southern Nevada be held in trust for the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The Department supports S. 2479 and would like to work with the Sponsor and the Committee on modifications concerning energy transmission corridors, recreational opportunities, and protection of sensitive species.
The Moapa Band of Paiute Indians (Tribe) is a federally recognized Indian tribe that resides on the Moapa River Reservation (Reservation). The Reservation was initially set aside in 1874, and is currently comprised of approximately 71,954 acres in southern Nevada.
The lands proposed in S. 2479 to be held in trust for the Tribe are adjacent to the existing Reservation. Most of the lands are currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Las Vegas Field Office under its 1998 Las Vegas Resource Management Plan (RMP). This RMP is under revision to address renewable energy development, energy transmission, sensitive species, cultural resource protection, and recreation issues. The draft RMP is currently expected to be available for public review later this year and a Record of Decision is expected by early 2016.
Subject to valid existing rights, S. 2479 transfers approximately 26,565 acres of public land currently administered by the BLM and the Bureau of Reclamation to be held by the United States in trust for the Tribe. Under the bill, the Secretary of the Interior would be required within 180 days of enactment to complete a survey to establish the boundaries of the land to be held in trust. S. 2479 provides that this land shall not be used for class II or III gaming, and can be used only for traditional and customary uses, stewardship conservation for the benefit of the Tribe, residential or recreational development, or renewable energy development. Any other use would require the Tribe to pay to the Secretary the fair market value of the lands, as determined by standard appraisal practices. Application of this process to land taken into trust is not a familiar approach, and the Department would need to conduct additional review and analysis before taking a position on this portion of the legislation.
Currently, several important rights-of-way cross the lands proposed to be held in trust in S. 2479, including the West Wide Energy Corridor which crosses the western portion of the proposed lands. The Old Spanish Trail, a national historic trail, crosses the southern portion of the proposed lands, and many of the lands identified are also important recreation areas. The southern portion of the proposed lands is also habitat for the three-corner milkvetch, a BLM-sensitive plant species, listed by the State of Nevada as “critically endangered.” All of these matters are being addressed in the RMP revision, which will cover 3.1 million acres in southern Nevada, including all of the acreage identified to be held in trust in S. 2479.
The Department supports S. 2479, and recommends it be amended to address the land management concerns identified above regarding energy transmission. To ensure that this area continues to be an important corridor for renewable energy development and transmission in the future, we recommend that energy transmission be an identified use of the lands under the bill.
The Department would also like to have further discussions with the Sponsor and Committee regarding the fair market value provisions in Sec. 3(d)(2)(B). We would be glad to work with the Sponsor and the Committee on proposed amendments to the bill.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of this legislation which will provide important benefits to the Tribe.