Policy Update Dec 13, 2017

Position on H.R. 200, H.R. 1349, H.R. 1350, H.R. 2888, H.R. 4266, and H.R. 4568

NPCA submitted the following positions to the House Natural Resources Committee ahead of a markup scheduled for December 12-13, 2017.

H.R. 200: Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act – NPCA strongly opposes this legislation, which would significantly weaken the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s conservation provisions and risk depleting fisheries. The bill also contradicts previous bipartisan reauthorizations of Magnuson-Stevens that have led to more fish and better fishing experiences. It undermines bedrock environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act, the Antiquities Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. It also rolls back rebuilding requirements, annual catch limits and science-based management, which have proven successful for replenishing fisheries and reducing overfishing. The 88 coastal parks in the National Park System cover approximately 10 percent of all U.S. shorelines and attracted more than 96 million visitors and generated nearly $7 billion in economic benefits to local economies in 2016. NPCA remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting all of America’s public lands and waters critical to the health of national parks.

HR 1349: A bill to amend the Wilderness Act to ensure that the use of bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, and game carts is not prohibited in Wilderness Areas, and for other purposes – NPCA opposes this legislation, which would undermine a bedrock environmental law and jeopardize the protection of wilderness areas in national parks and public lands across the country by opening them up to mountain biking. While mountain bikes do provide important recreation opportunities on our public lands, allowing them in wilderness areas would significantly affect the management and enjoyment of these spaces. Instead, the collaborative work between the environmental and mountain biking communities, to develop recreation opportunities while protecting wilderness, should continue.

H.R. 1350: A bill to modify the boundary of Voyageurs National Park in the State of Minnesota, and for other purposes – NPCA supports this legislation, which would modify the boundary of Voyageurs National Park and authorize the transfer of a number of Bureau of Land Management parcels within the park to the National Park Service. It also authorizes the transfer of any additional parcels that are identified by the BLM, and authorizes the park to acquire State lands in or adjacent to the park by donation or exchange only. The interagency land transfer will save staff time and taxpayer dollars by eliminating the need for duplicative land management between the two federal agencies and provide consistency to the land management of the national park. According to the National Park Service, there are no anticipated costs associated with the land transfer itself.

H.R. 2888: Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park Establishment Act – NPCA supports this legislation to establish a new unit of the National Park System in the state of Missouri. Established in the mid-1700s, Ste. Genevieve was the first settlement on the west bank of the Mississippi River and is still the only surviving French Colonial village in the U.S. In May 2016, the National Park Service released a comprehensive Special Resource Study of the site. The study found that a portion of the Ste. Genevieve historic district meets criteria for national significance and suitability, and that certain resources within the district are feasible to manage as a unit and would benefit from direct NPS management.

H.R. 4266: Acadia National Park Boundary Clarification Act – NPCA supports this bill to address the boundary of Acadia National Park and provide for some additional administrative provisions. The bill would codify the Schoodic Peninsula addition to the park, an area of pristine beauty and with improved public amenities to allow visitors to camp, bike and hike the Schoodic Woods while finding peace and solitude along Maine’s stunning and undeveloped coastline. NPCA also supports the permanent authorization of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission as it plays an integral role in providing local feedback to creatively problem solve and move toward successes at Acadia National Park. We also support the modification of the land use designation for the Tremont School to allow for public uses. NPCA supports language to allow the park to transfer or exchange land up to 10 acres on a case-by-case basis, including when there are land survey errors or road realignments.

NPCA is however concerned with Section 109 of H.R. 4266: Continuation of Certain Traditional Uses as it lists specific organisms that would be allowed for harvesting, as regulated by the State of Maine. NPCA supports allowing the Park Service at Acadia to monitor and regulate harvesting practices in the inter-tidal zone surrounding the park, though only using traditional methods. NPCA seeks a clarification of legislative intent that “traditional” does not include mechanized harvesting, but rather “non-mechanized” or “by-hand” methods.

H.R. 4568: Enhancing Geothermal Production on Federal Lands Act – The extraction of geothermal energy is known to have harmful impacts on interconnected systems, such as geysers and springs, including important geothermal features in national parks. NPCA opposes this legislation as it establishes uncertain criteria for Priority Areas for geothermal production, and would waive critical environmental review requirements for such areas. NPCA is particularly concerned about those park units currently awaiting formal recognition as “significant thermal features” under the Geothermal Steam Act.