San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Boundary Expansion Act of 2013
Statement for the Record
U.S. Department of the Interior
House Committee on Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation
H.R. 885, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Boundary Expansion Act of 2013
April 16, 2013
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to provide the views of the Administration on H.R. 885, to expand the boundary of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (Park), to conduct a boundary study of potential land acquisitions, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 885. While the Department supports the boundary study authorized by this legislation, we feel that priority should be given to the 31 previously authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic Rivers System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
H.R. 885 would amend Section 201 of Public Law 95-629 to direct the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to conduct a study of lands in Bexar and Wilson Counties to identify lands that would be suitable to include within the boundaries of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (Park). The study would examine the natural, cultural, recreational, and scenic values and characteristics of the land. We estimate that this study will cost approximately $350,000.
H.R. 885 would also expand the boundary of the Park by approximately 137 acres, all of which are currently being managed by the National Park Service (NPS). Of the 137 acres, 118 acres are either owned by the United States and managed by the NPS, or are being managed by the NPS under a cooperative agreement and are in the process of being donated to the Park. The remaining 19 acres are currently, and will continue to be, managed through a cooperative agreement with the land owners, the city of San Antonio and Bexar County, that protects the cultural landscape, ensures public access, and provides for greater interpretation of the historical and architectural values of the Park.
The Park’s authorizing legislation allows for the acquisition of new lands outside the Park boundary and allows the Park to enter into cooperative agreements to preserve historic properties and provide for visitor access and interpretation. However, the Park does not have authority to expand the Park boundary to include those lands, which is why this legislation is necessary. Because the park currently manages the 137 acres that would be included in the new boundary, H.R. 885 will not result in increased operational costs.
The Park preserves a significant link to Mexico and Spain that has influenced the culture and history of the United States since before its inception. San Antonio, Texas, is now the seventh-largest, third-fastest growing city in the United States. The city grew 68 percent between 1980 and 2007 and now almost entirely surrounds the Park with urban development, threatening areas that contain significant Spanish colonial resources historically associated with the Park. Based on the Park’s General Management Plan and Land Protection Plan, which found that numerous areas containing significant Spanish colonial resources historically associated with the Park were outside the boundary, the Park acquired resources that now need to be included in the boundary.
This legislation enjoys the support of officials from Bexar County, Wilson County, the City of San Antonio, the City of Floresville, the San Antonio River Authority, the San Antonio Conservation Society, Los Compadres, and others. It would help guarantee the preservation, protection, restoration, and interpretation of the missions for current and future generations.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Administration.