Policy Update Oct 28, 2019

Position on H.R. 1373, H.R. 2181 & H.R. 823

NPCA submitted the following positions to the House of Representatives ahead of floor votes scheduled for the week of October 28, 2019.

H.R. 1373 – Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act: NPCA strongly supports this bill to protect Grand Canyon National Park, its watershed and the water sources vital to the Havasupai people, from the impacts of uranium mining. H.R. 1373 would make permanent the current 20-year ban on uranium mining for one million acres of land neighboring Grand Canyon National Park. This action will preserve for future generations the beauty and health of what is one of America’s most awe-inspiring landscape. Tribal leaders, business owners, local officials and conservation groups all support this commonsense continuation of the temporary mining prohibition that the Department of the Interior recognized as necessary in 2012. While the Grand Canyon is clearly the wrong place to mine for uranium, risking contamination of a national jewel, it is the right place to invest in the booming tourism and recreation industries that employ thousands of Americans and bring hundreds of millions of dollars to rural communities.

H.R. 2181 – Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act: Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a unique landscape that tells the story of one of North America’s oldest and most sophisticated cultures, has an internationally renowned dark sky, and was recognized as a world-class cultural landscape with its designation as a World Heritage Site in 1987. Today, the area is still revered as sacred ancestral homeland and continues to serve as an important cultural center for numerous tribes. NPCA strongly supports the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act to withdraw the lands around the historical park, within an approximate ten-mile Chaco Protection Zone, from further oil and gas development by the Bureau of Land Management. Withdrawal of over 316,000 acres of oil, natural gas, coal and other minerals owned by the federal government within the proposed Chaco Protection Zone will preserve scared sites of great significance to human history, help address some of the public health concerns of neighboring communities and tribes, and ensure the park’s exceptional resources are protected. The Protection Zone would apply only to BLM land—not private, tribal trust, or tribal allotment lands.

Additionally, H.R. 2181 recognizes the need for additional studies and protective measures to address health, safety and environmental concerns, while calling for an end to the oil and gas industry’s land grab by returning non-producing lands back to the public where they belong. We should not allow our cultural legacy to become an island in a sea of oil and gas development, development whose negative impacts disproportionately impact communities in northern New Mexico.

H.R. 823 – Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act: NPCA supports this legislation to protect 400,000 acres of public lands in Colorado, including providing a long overdue boundary designation for the Curecanti National Recreation Area (NRA), one of Colorado’s thirteen national park units. Although the NRA was created in 1965, it was never afforded enabling legislation by Congress, and therefore its boundary was never designated. This administrative deficiency seems minor, but it has limited the National Park Service’s ability to efficiently manage the area. H.R. 823 fixes this by providing an appropriate boundary through transfer and exchange of land with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The proposed boundary adjustment is the result of a years-long extensive public planning process and will allow the National Park Service to work with landowners to enhance the longterm conservation of natural, recreational and scenic resources within the park unit. H.R. 823 is also a response to the interests of nearly one million visitors who travel to the area to fish, hike and recreate, and to the local gateway economies that depend upon this visitation and enhancement of its recreational opportunities.