“These agreements . . . should not be held up as a model of how the Federal government should do business.”

Yesterday, the Senate National Parks Subcommittee hearing included discussion of the October 2013 federal government shutdown and its effect on parks, monuments, and certain other public lands.  S. 1750, the “Public Access to Public Land Guarantee Act,” was addressed during this hearing.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake (AZ), and co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (UT), Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT), and Sen. John McCain (AZ), S. 1750 would “authorize the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into agreements with States and political subdivisions of States providing for the continued operation, in whole or in part, of public land, units of the National Park System, units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and units of the National Forest System in the State during any period in which the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture is unable to maintain normal level of operations at the units due to a lapse in appropriations, and for other purposes.”

Christina Goldfuss, Deputy Director, Congressional and External Relations, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, provided the Senate Subcommittee members with this key observation:

“Enacting a law to try to avoid the impact of a future shutdown on specified activities is not a responsible alternative to simply making the political commitment to avoid a shutdown in the future….”

Additional comments from Christina Goldfuss regarding S. 1750 follow:

“The Department [of the Interior] strongly opposes S. 1750. We have a great deal of sympathy for the businesses and communities that experienced a disruption of activity and loss of revenue during last fall’s government shutdown and that stand to lose more if there is another funding lapse in the future. However, we disagree generally with the idea of enacting laws to try to lessen the impact of a future government shutdown for a few select governmental activities rather than protecting all such activities by avoiding a lapse in appropriations. We also believe that this legislation specifically, with its mandate to enter into agreements to reopen public lands at the request of a state, would be very difficult to execute. Furthermore, we are concerned that agreements to have states provide funding for activities that are inherently Federal in nature, even for a short period of time, would undermine the longstanding framework established by Congress for the management of Federal lands under the stewardship of the Department.”

“The desire to avoid the kind of disappointment to the public and disruption of economic activity that results from a lapse in Federal appropriations is understandable. When the partial government shutdown occurred from October 1 through October 16, 2013, a lot of attention was focused on effects of closures of national parks, national wildlife refuges, public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and national forests – all places that are highly valued by the public for their recreational offerings and that serve as economic engines for the communities in which they are located.”

“These agreements did help a select number of businesses and communities. However, they should not be held up as a model of how the Federal government should do business. The national parks that were opened during the shutdown were fortunate to be located in states that had the resources and political will to fund them. The National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which all seek to treat the land units under their stewardship equitably, have grave concerns about enshrining in law a process that favors units located in states willing to donate funds to operate them over those located in other states.”

“The 2013 Federal government shutdown had terrible impacts for American citizens, businesses, communities, states, and the economy as a whole. These impacts are summarized in the report released by the Office of Management and Budget entitled ‘Impacts and Costs of the October 2013 Federal Government Shutdown’ (November 2013). The report makes clear that the economic effects and disruption to lives and activities from the shutdown were felt far and wide. Enacting a law to try to avoid the impact of a future shutdown on specified activities is not a responsible alternative to simply making the political commitment to avoid a shutdown in the future by providing appropriations for all the vital functions the Federal government performs.”

The link to this Senate National Parks Subcommittee hearing is here.

Full text of the comments of Christina Goldfuss is available here.

See Thomas for more regarding S. 1750.

 

“This is a big deal!”

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

“This is a big deal!”

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument Decision.

From George W. Bush’s “Remarks on the Establishment of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument,” June 15, 2006.

“The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are a beautiful and special place. The 10 islands and atolls stretch over 1,400 miles. That’s the distance from Chicago to Miami. In the tropical waters surrounding the archipelago, there are more than 4,500 square miles of coral reef habitat thriving under the surface. Think about that—4,500 square miles of coral reef.

These undersea forests and mountain ranges comprise the largest remote reef system in the world. And this region holds the largest and healthiest untouched coral reef system in the United States. And we’re going to preserve it.

I think you’re beginning to get a feel for why I made the decision I made. The national monument we’re establishing today covers nearly 140,000 square miles. To put this area in context, this national monument is more than 100 times larger than Yosemite National Park, larger than 46 of our 50 States, and more than 7 times larger than all our national marine sanctuaries combined. This is a big deal.”

The name of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument (Proclamation No. 8031, 71 Fed. Reg. 36443, June 15, 2006) was changed to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument via Proclamation No. 8112 (72 Fed. Reg. 10031, Feb. 28, 2007).

Map courtesy State of Hawaii, Division of Aquatic Resources. Additional information from the State of Hawaii can be found here.

Full text of the “Remarks on the Establishment of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument” can be found here. Quoted material comes from page 1150 of this document.

 

“Congress was not enthusiastic. . . .”

John Fletcher Lacey

John Fletcher Lacey

“Congress was not enthusiastic. . . .”

Antiquities Act Bills and Discussion, circa 1900-1906, from Raymond Harris Thompson

“Hewett tried to avoid language anywhere in the bill that might trigger debate over details, such as how much land would be withdrawn, by limiting the amount of land to ‘the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management’ of the monument.”

“Lacey had already warned Interior Secretary Hitchcock when he submitted Hermann’s draft that the Congress was not enthusiastic about the thought of massive land withdrawals. . . . Subsequent debate, comment, and action (or lack thereof) seemed to indicate that the Congress had not moved away from that position.” (p. 300)

“There was also the problem that the Congress had displayed little enthusiasm for establishing national parks. . . .” (p. 303)

Mentioned in quotes:

Edgar Lee Hewett (Professor, Archaeologist, Administrator, Westerner)

John Fletcher Lacey (Congressman, Republican, Major (Union Army), Attorney; See also the “Lacey Act of 1900”)

Ethan Allen Hitchcock (Secretary of the Interior from 1898 to 1907)

Binger Hermann (Commissioner of the General Land Office from 1897 to 1903)

All quoted material above is from the Journal of the Southwest (Volume 42, Number 2, Summer 2000) “A Special Issue: The Antiquities Act of 1906” “An Old and Reliable Authority: An Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities” by Raymond Harris Thompson and edited by Joseph Carleton Wilder. Full text and more can be found here at An Old and Reliable Authority.

Thanks to the Department of Commerce / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center for hosting this publication.

Image credit: “John F. Lacey” Copyright 2014 Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

 

“. . . and also any natural formation of scientific or scenic value. . . .”

Frederic Ward Putnam and George B Gordon

George B Gordon and Frederic Ward Putnam

“. . . and also any natural formation of scientific or scenic value. . . .”

Antiquities Act Bills and Discussion, circa 1899-1900, from Ronald F. Lee

“Sometime late in 1899 the American Association for the Advancement of Science established a committee to promote a bill in Congress for the permanent preservation of aboriginal antiquities situated on federal lands. It was called the “Committee on the Protection and Preservation of Objects of Archaeological Interest.” Dr. Thomas Wilson, lawyer, diplomat, and since 1887 curator of prehistoric archaeology in the U.S. National Museum, was named Chairman and Frederic W. Putnam, N. H. Winchell, G. K. Gilbert, A. W. Butler, and George A. Dorsey members. The same year the Archaeological Institute of America set up a Standing Committee on American Archaeology, with Charles P. Bowditch of Boston as chairman and F. W. Putnam and Franz Boas as members. The two committees agreed to combine their efforts with Dr. Wilson serving as “Chairman of the Committees of the two Societies.”

“[A] draft bill, with an accompanying explanation, was then published for the information of the two societies [American Association for the Advancement of Science, Archaeological Institute of America]. The bill began with a major provision that:”

“The President of the United States may from time to time set apart and reserve for use as public parks or reservations, in the same manner as now provided by law for forestry reservations, any public lands upon which are monuments, cliff-dwellings, cemeteries, graves, mounds, forts, or any other work of prehistoric, primitive, or aboriginal man, and also any natural formation of scientific or scenic value or interest, or natural wonder or curiosity together with such additional area of land surrounding or adjoining the same, as he may deem necessary for the proper preservation and subsequent investigation of said prehistoric work or remains.”

“On February 5, 1900, Representative Jonathan P. Dolliver of Iowa, presumably at the request of Dr. Wilson, introduced a somewhat revised form of this bill in the House as H. R. 8066.”

“Now that the antiquities issue had been raised in Congress, competing viewpoints were quickly made known. On February 6, the day after Representative Dolliver introduced his bill, Representative John F. Shafroth of Colorado, a member of the Public Lands Committee, whose state contained many well-known cliff dwellings, introduced his own bill, H.R. 8195. A westerner, Representative Shafroth was not interested in promoting new Presidential authority to create parks of undetermined extent on the public domain. Instead, his bill simply declared that any unauthorized person who harmed an aboriginal antiquity would be subject to fine, imprisonment, or both. This quick solution to the problem was soon recognized as too simple, however. On March 7, Shafroth introduced a second bill, H.R.9245, which directed the Secretary of the Interior to have the Geological Survey make a survey of public lands in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico where ruins of temples, houses, and other prehistoric structures were known to exist and recommend which were of sufficient importance for permanent preservation. The Secretary was authorized to set aside lands upon which such important ruins were situated, not to exceed 320 acres for each ruin.”

“All three antiquities bills now before Congress were referred for consideration to the House Committee on the Public Lands, whose Chairman was Representative John F. Lacey of Iowa.”

With one exception, the quoted material above is from Chapter 6 of the 2001 electronic edition of The Antiquities Act of 1906 by Ronald F. Lee (originally published in 1970 by the National Park Service). This chapter title is “The Antiquities Act, 1900-06.” Full text and more can be found here at The Story of the Antiquities Act.

Thanks to the National Park Service Archaeology Program for hosting this collection of Antiquities Act material.

The exception is the quoted paragraph above,  which begins with “The President of the United States may from time to time. . . .” and which is from page 224 of “Part 1: The Antiquities Act of 1906 by Ronald Freeman Lee” (pp. 197- 270). This material can be found in the Journal of the Southwest (Volume 42, Number 2, Summer 2000) “A Special Issue: The Antiquities Act of 1906” “An Old and Reliable Authority: An Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities” by Raymond Harris Thompson and edited by Joseph Carleton Wilder. Full text and more can be found here at An Old and Reliable Authority.

Thanks to the Department of Commerce / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center for hosting this publication.

Image credit: “George B. Gordon and F. W. Putnam. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard”  (Harvard University, Negative No. N28714. Copyright: President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum, Harvard University) from the article:

“Who were the Professional North American Archaeologists of 1900? Clues from the Work of Warren K. Moorehead” by Andrew L Christenson

http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bha.2112

Birth of a Monument

Birth of a Monument: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to be Established by Presidential Proclamation on 5-21-14

White House press briefing

On Monday, mixed in with other news–cybersecurity, Russian troops, Veterans Affairs–President Obama’s press secretary,  Jay Carney, noted that the president would be using his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish the nation’s newest national monument. Press Secretary Carney’s briefing lasted nearly an hour (from 1:20 to 2:14 p.m.), but there did not appear to be any questions from the press concerning the establishment of a new national monument. Carney’s announcement follows:

“Secondly, I’d like to let you know that, on Wednesday, President Obama will host an event at the Department of the Interior where he will sign a proclamation establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in south central New Mexico.  By establishing the monument, the President will permanently protect more than 496,000 acres to preserve the prehistoric, historic and scientific values of the area for the benefit of all Americans.  A recent independent study found that a new national monument could generate $7.5 million — $7.4 million in new economic activity annually from new visitors and business opportunities, while preserving access for sportsmen, ranchers and recreational users.

This signing is part of our larger week-long focus on helping businesses invest here in America to further grow our economy and create jobs. “

Full text of the White House press briefing is available here.

The direct URL to this briefing is:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/05/19/press-briefing-press-secretary-jay-carney-5192014

Image credit: Office of the Press Secretary White House Press Briefing 5-19-14

A Very Brief Consideration of Monument Management at Giant Sequoia and San Juan Islands National Monuments

Black Oystercatcher

Black Oystercatcher, which you might see on your way to San Juan Islands National Monument. Credit: Spring Street International School’s 7th Grade Science Students

A Very Brief Consideration of Monument Management at Giant Sequoia and San Juan Islands National Monuments

Visitors to the Giant Sequoia National Monument in California may notice the roadside signs indicating transitions from national forest to national monument to national forest (again) and then to national park as they wind up the mountain roads through U.S. Forest Service- and National Park Service-managed lands.

Here, Sequoia National Forest and the Giant Sequoia National Monument itself are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, while Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are managed by the National Park Service. A visit to any of the following links will give you a better idea of management objectives, visitor resources, and area history. Page eight of this PDF has a great map that provides an overview of the connections between these public lands.

USFS Giant Sequoia National Monument

NPS Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest Credit: USFS

Visitors to the San Juan Islands National Monument may also wonder about the mix of Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service-managed lands as they consider area maps and potential travel routes to this year-old national monument, which is located between Washington and Canada’s Vancouver Island.

The monument itself—San Juan Islands National Monument—is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, while San Juan Island National Historical Park is managed by the National Park Service.

San Juan Islands National Monument represents a truly diverse collection of environments and features. Among other locations, monument access and features can be found on Blind Island, Chuckanut Rock, and at San Juan Island’s Cattle Point, along with numerous unnamed small islands, rocks, and pinnacles. Visitors can see woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, and beaches, some accessible by ferry, some on foot, and others only by boat.

Detailed maps furnished by the BLM, NPS, and park-partner organizations describe the mix of features and lands and can provide a bit of perspective on how these agencies work together in this area.

Click here for an outstanding BLM map of the monument

Naturally, there’s a lot to look at and a lot to discover in both of these national monuments. Giant sequoias, for example, may grow to be nearly 300 feet tall, but ask a ranger to show you the seed that gets these great trees started (You’ll be surprised!). Otters play along the shore and in the waters of the San Juan Islands, but if you do see one, you may be surprised to learn that it is very likely a river otter, rather than a sea otter (See this helpful NPS discussion for more).

Click here for San Juan Islands National Monument BLM information

Click here for San Juan Island National Historical Park NPS information

Click here for more about birds in the San Juan Islands National Monument area as illustrated by Spring Street International School’s 7th Grade Science Students

North American River Otter

North American River Otter Credit: Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours via NPS SAJH