Policy Update Jun 26, 2017

Position on H.R. 1719, H.R. 1927, H.R. 2370 & H.R. 2936

NPCA submitted the following position to the House Committee on Natural Resources ahead of a markup scheduled for June 27, 2017.

H.R. 1719: John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act – NPCA supports this legislation to add approximately 44 acres to the John Muir National Historic Site. John Muir is one of the country’s most famous and influential naturalists who was involved in the creation of Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Kings Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Mt. Rainier National Parks. John Muir also contributed to the idea that led to the creation of the National Park Service.

H.R. 1927: African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017 – Although many sites significant to the U.S. Civil Rights movement have been identified and protected as units of the National Park System, many more remain unidentified or without adequate resource protection. The establishment of a Civil Rights Network would provide National Park Service technical expertise to the individuals, groups, associations or agencies that own such properties and enable them to better protect and interpret important resources and stories. NPCA supports this important legislation.

H.R. 2370: Escambia County Land Conveyance Act – NPCA opposes this legislation because the transfer of lands could cause lasting harm to the resources of Gulf Islands National Seashore. When Santa Rosa Island National Monument was deauthorized in 1946, the federal government authorized the transfer of federal lands to Escambia County with certain use restrictions to ensure the land was administered in the public interest. H.R. 2370 would supersede this agreement and would allow for the conveyance of these same lands—portions of Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach—to Santa Rosa County without use restrictions. Though the lands in question sit outside of the boundary of Gulf Islands National Seashore, changes to their management, and possible improper development, could affect significant natural and cultural resources, pristine and wild beaches, public access and rare and endangered species habitat. Additionally, several proposals have been offered over the years that would dredge a channel through Santa Rosa Island on the lands in question. Any new channel or ancillary jetty construction would have long-term, detrimental impacts on the Fort Pickens area of the Seashore and surrounding estuaries, wetlands and wildlife habitat. Changes in management of the Navarre Beach area could give way to this type of development.

H.R. 2936: Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 – NPCA opposes this bill to undermine federal law and public participation in public lands management, and expand and expedite timber production at the expense of other natural resources in our national forests. More specifically, the bill severely undermines the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), eliminates citizen opportunities to seek judicial relief, allows millions of acres of currently protected roadless areas to become vulnerable to harmful road building and logging, reallocates funds under the Secure Rural Schools Act away from environmental restoration to timber production, dismantles interagency consultation integral to the Endangered Species Act and puts national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act at risk.

There are at least 15 national parks that border national forest lands. From the Grand Canyon to Shenandoah National Parks, these landscapes play an integral role in our parks. In addition to the lands, water and wildlife within our national parks, these natural resources adjacent to parks are critical to ensuring our park ecosystems remain dynamic and healthy. Threats to the forests that surround national parks and the federal laws that protect them, directly affect the resources within their borders. NPCA has long been a supporter of the U.S. Forest Service’s multiple use mandate, community engagement during public lands planning and other policies that seek to identify and avoid areas of conflict in order to promote landscape connectivity. It is through this frame that we evaluate any forest management or forest fire related legislation. Unfortunately, H.R. 2936 doesn’t accomplish these ideas and should be opposed.