A bill to update the map of, and modify the acreage available for inclusion in, the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
STATEMENT OF DR. STEPHANIE TOOTHMAN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CULTURAL RESOUCES, PARTNERSHIPS, AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 3020, TO UPDATE THE MAP OF, AND MODIFY THE ACREAGE AVAILABLE FOR INCLUSION IN, THE FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT.
JUNE 15, 2016
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 3020, to increase the acreage limit and update the boundary map of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in the State of Colorado.
The Department supports S. 3020, with a technical correction described later in this statement.
This bill would increase the acreage limit and update the boundary map, which would allow the National Park Service to accept donation of 280 acres of land from a private landowner to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Teller County, Colorado. Including this land within the boundary of the monument would allow for enhanced wildfire protection as well as additional habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for visitors.
Public Law 91-60 limited the size of the monument to 6,000 acres. The current monument boundary includes 5,992 acres, leaving the National Park Service unable to accept the 280-acre donation. This 280-acre parcel would provide critical access to the park’s western boundary for wildland fire protection, including improving opportunities for completing future hazardous fuel mitigation projects. Teller County Road 1 runs through the center of the monument and is currently the only main road that exists. The county also manages two other roads on the east side of the monument. As a result, fuels mitigation work on the monument’s western boundary is limited because fire crews can only access the western boundary by foot. If the donation is approved, fire and emergency vehicles will have direct access to the western boundary of the park via a private road.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is located in a high-mountain valley just west of Pikes Peak and 35 miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The park was established as a national monument in 1969 to preserve one of the most diverse fossil deposits in the world and interpret its paleontological resources and geologic significance. The park maintains a collection of more than 12,000 fossil specimens, conducts inventory and monitoring of the fossil sites, has ongoing university collaborations and continues to be the subject of scientific publications.
Today, the park also offers a variety of recreational experiences to a growing community, including sightseeing, interpretive visitor center exhibits, hiking, picnicking, daily ranger-guided programs during the summer, Junior Ranger programs, and curriculum-based education programs for visiting school groups. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument provides opportunities for exploration and discovery, as well as trails that offer easy day-hiking experiences for visitors.
The park does not anticipate additional staff or resources will be needed to support inclusion of the 280-acre donation as there are no plans to build or install any facilities there. The park superintendent provided local outreach to the community regarding the proposal and did not receive opposition from the local, county and adjacent landowners to accept the donation.
The department recommends a technical correction to the bill. On page 2, line 2, strike “numbered” and insert “entitled ‘Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument Proposed Boundary Adjustment’, numbered” to include the name of the revised map in addition to the number and date. This correction will ensure the language is consistent with the standards for identifying maps in public laws related to the National Park Service.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.