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June 7, 2007

Rep. Rob Bishop's Opening Statement from Today's Hearing

On The National Landscape Conservation System

            Washington, D.C. - The following is the opening statement of U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) from today's hearing on the National Landscape Conservation System.                                                                                                       

Rep. Bishop is the Ranking Member on the U.S. House Subcommittee on Parks, Forests & Public Lands, which conducted today's hearing.

Ranking Member Bishop's Statement

"I have serious concerns with H.R. 2016.  Coming from a state where much of our land is already under federal lock and key, you should be able to understand why I am less than enthusiastic to see another layer of bureaucracy placed over us.

"On the surface, proponents of the bill claim that this does nothing more than codify a program created by the Clinton administration which serves to protect lands that have the remarkable ability to, as Ms. Daly put it, 'define who we are as a nation'.  Indeed, some of these lands are remarkable, but much of this land was created at the whim of special interest groups by a sympathetic President. 

"Now we are told we need to create a 'system' for these lands.  Believe it or not we already have a 'system' to protect 'nationally significant' lands; it is called the National Park Service.  This appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to insert restrictive National Park Service management methods in order to lock up public lands which were intended to be multiuse.

"The Chairman's bill uses language which has haunted National Park Service managers, to the delight of trial attorneys, in their responsibility to balance conservation and recreation.  This bill introduces the concept of 'values' into the BLM.  My question is what is a value to the BLM?  In the National Park Service, a value is now interpreted to include such subjective things as sound-scapes, view-sheds, and the occasional smell-shed.   Should we anticipate future legislation to protect these 'values' on bureau lands?

"Initially I thought this bill was at worst was the camel's nose under the tent.  However, upon closer examination, this bill would invite the camel into to the tent and into the sleeping bag. 

"Let's look directly at the legislation.  Section 3- Establishment: In order to conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations, there is established in the Bureau of Land Management the National Landscape Conservation System.

"This may as well be the National Park Service organic act.  This is the same language.  Unfortunately it goes on.  This bill further directs the Secretary to manage these lands 'in a manner that protects the values for which the components of the system were designated'.  Again, we are presented with the vague concept of values.  This legislation is the biggest invitation to a lawsuit since the slip and fall scheme was invented.  I can see the day when a judge decides that in light of this language, all units of this system will have to be managed in a uniform and consistent way.  It is unconscionable to force our multiuse public lands down the same path that forced personal watercraft out of National Recreation Areas and put snowmobiles on the endangered species list.  It appears the language in this bill was ripped from the Redwood's Amendment to the general authorities of the National Park Service which has imperiled recreation and entombed park units.

"This bill also creates yet another federal designation.  The Chairman's bill will include 'any area designated by Congress to be administered for conservation purposes' within this new system.  After this bill has become law, we should expect an onslaught of bills for new units of the National Landscape Conservation System. 

"Finally, witnesses will testify today about the impacts these designations have on people's lives.  We will ask our witnesses, who have been included in these designations against their wishes, how making this system permanent will directly impact them.  This legislation also puts at risk hard-won rights of Alaska natives that are of critical importance to me and to the Ranking Member Don Young.

"We should consider this proposal carefully because the special interests have already put 'multiuse' in jeopardy."

For more information, access the Committee on Natural Resources' Minority website at:

http://republicans.resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.shtml

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Steve Hansen
Director of Communications
Republican Staff
U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources
1329 Longworth HOB
Washington
, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-7749

 
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