T o extend the authorization of the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission
STATEMENT OF JOY BEASLEY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR CULTURAL RESOURCES, PARTNERSHIPS AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS CONCERNING S. 2158 TO EXTEND THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE ADVISORY COMMISSION.
October 6, 2021
Chairman King, Ranking Member Daines, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 2158 to extend the authorization for the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission (Commission).
The Department supports S. 2158 with one recommended technical change.
The bill would reauthorize the Commission until September 26, 2029, retroactive to September 26, 2018, the date that the Commission’s authority to operate expired. The retroactive extension included in the bill would enable the Commission to function with the same charter it had previously. There would be no new administrative costs associated with reauthorization of the Commission.
The Commission was originally authorized in 1961 as a part of Public Law 87-126, Cape Cod National Seashore's enabling legislation, and began operation in 1966. It has been legislatively and administratively reestablished and amended several times. The Commission was last extended for a ten-year period by Public Law 111-11 in 2009.
The Commission is an exceptional example within the National Park System of a partner in cooperative land stewardship. Its purpose is to advise park management on questions relating to municipal and private land ownership and occupancy inside the seashore, and on the management of recreational activities. Membership consists of one representative from each of the six Lower Cape towns, two from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one from Barnstable County, and one selected by the Secretary of the Interior.
The seashore, located in eastern Massachusetts, involves a unique pattern of land ownership and management. The six Lower Cape towns, from whose lands the Cape Cod National Seashore was carved, retain ownership of numerous parcels within the park including ponds, beaches, parking lots and roads. In addition, more than 600 parcels inside the park are privately owned. Under a unique landowner arrangement, sometimes referred to as the ‘Cape Cod Model,’ many of these parcels are expected to remain in private hands.
Activities on these lands can have profound effects on protected resources within the seashore, creating a need for constructive and productive dialogue among landowners and park managers. The multiplicity of interests to which the park superintendent must respond, requires effective public and community involvement that the Commission effectively provides.
Before its authority to operate expired on September 26, 2018, the Commission was an asset that enhanced and encouraged communication between park managers and local communities and had established an excellent reputation as a facilitator of vital community dialogue. Frequent use of subcommittees allows local opinion leaders to remain involved. At the same time, it permitted numerous parties to have direct access to park management through consultation.
In its recent past, the Commission has addressed such contentious issues as: shore bird management, kite boarding, the impacts of climate change on park infrastructure, and the expiration of several reservations of use and occupancy. Passage of this bill would enable the Commission to continue this important role.
As mentioned above, the Department supports S. 2158 with one recommended technical change to the Commission’s statutory role. The law that established the Commission [16 U.S.C. 459b-7(g)] states that no permit for the commercial or industrial use of property located within the seashore shall be issued, nor shall any public use area for recreational activity be established within the seashore, without the advice of the Commission, if such advice is submitted within a reasonable time after it is sought. We recommend this provision be struck as it is unusual for an advisory commission to have this kind of statutory role in park management decisions.
Chairman King, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.