SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE AMERICAN HERITAGE RIVERS INITIATIVE
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
H.R. 1842, TO TERMINATE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AMERICAN HERITAGE RIVERS INITIATIVE
SEPTEMBER 24, 1997, WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10570
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Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held September 24, 1997
Statement of Members:
Bonilla, Hon. Henry, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, prepared statement of
Calvert, Hon. Ken, a Representative in Congress from the State of California, prepared statement of
Cannon, Hon. Christopher B., a Repesentative in Congress from the State of Utah, prepared statement of
Chenoweth, Hon. Helen, a Representative in Congress from the State of Idaho
Additional material submitted for the record by
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCEmerson, Hon. Jo Ann, a Representative in Congress from the State of Missouri
Prepared statement of
Furse, Hon. Elizabeth, a Representative in Congress from the State of Oregon, prepared statement of
Hastings, Hon. Doc, a Representative in Congress from the State of Washington
Prepared statement of
Herger, Hon. Wally, a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Prepared statement of
Hunt, Hon. James B., Jr., Governor, North Carolina, letter to Board of Directors, Riverlink
Hutchinson, Hon. Asa, a Representative in Congress from the State of Arkansas, prepared statement of
Johnson, Hon. Nancy, a Representative in Congress from the State of Connecticut
Prepared statement of
Kanjorski, Hon. Paul, a Representative in Congress from the State of Pennsylvania
Prepared statement of
LaHood, Hon. Ray, a Representative in Congress from the State of Illinois, prepared statement of
Pallone, Jr., Hon. Frank, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey
Paul, Hon. Ron. a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas and Hon. Bill Archer, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, letter to President Clinton
Reyes, Hon. Silvestre, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Scott, Hon. Robert, a Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia
Smith, Hon. Lamar S., a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, prepared statement of
Stearns, Hon. Cliff, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida
Statement of Witnesses:
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBlomquist, Dan, Montanans for Multiple Use, Kalispell, Montana
Prepared statement of
Bright, David L., Sr., Harrison, Arkansas
Further information submitted by
Chavis, Mayor Larry, Richmond, Virginia, prepared statement of
DeVeny, Bill, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Boise, Idaho
Prepared statement of
Ealy, David Allan, Perrysville, Indiana
Prepared statement of
Hoover, Lois Van, Idaho Multiple Land Use Coalition, Yellow Pine, Idaho
Prepared statement of
Kustra, Robert, Governor of Illinois, prepared statement of
LaGrasse, Carol, Property Rights Foundation of America, Stony Creek, New York
Prepared statement of
Lynch, Robert S., Central Arizona Project Association, Phoenix, Arizona
Prepared statement of
McGinty, Kathleen, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality, Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC
Prepared statement of
Moss, Linda Bourque, Western Heritage Center, Billings, Montana
Prepared statement of
Nelson, Reginald William, Richmond, Virginia
Prepared statement of
Pendley, William Perry, Mountain States Legal Foundation, Denver, Colorado
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Ross, Gordon, Coos County Commissioner, Coos County, Oregon
Prepared statement of
Samuel, Peter, Schuylkill River Greenway and Heritage Corridor, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania
Prepared statement of
Smith, Desmond K., Trans Texas Heritage Association, Alpine, Texas
Prepared statement of
Sundquist, Hon. Don, Governor, Tennessee
Young, David, Buncombe County Commissioner, Asheville, North Carolina
Prepared statement of
Yturria, Mary A., Brownsville, Texas
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
Budget Options for American Heritage Rivers
Central Arizona Project Assoc., letter to Mr. Young
CEQ, Memorandum to Distribution, Ray Clark, CEQ
Clinton discloses plan to improve waterways, The Washington Times
Council on Environmental Quality
CRZLR, Inc., letter to Mr. Young
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, letter to Ms. McGinty
Kruse, Charles E., President, Missouri Farm Bureau, and others, letter to Mr. Ray Clark
Letter to the Executive Office of the President, Council on Environmental Quality
Lugar, Hon. Richard G., and Hon. Dan Coats, letter to Ms. McGinty
Missouri Levee and Drainage District Assoc., letter to Mr. Young
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCOwyhee County Commissioners, letter to the Executive Office of the President, Council on Environmental Quality
Resources Committee, American Rivers Heritage, obtained from CEQ
River, fisheries, recreation, business, and conservation orgranizations letter opposing H.R.1842
Text of H.R. 1842
Trans Texas Heritage Assoc., letter to Ms. Karen Hobbs
Voting motion on Dept. of Interior's Appropriation Bill
Winona, Minnesota, City Hall, letter to Mr. Young
Blue Ribbon Coalition Inc., Idaho Falls, Idaho
County of Buncombe, text of Proclamation
Watershed Projects in Coos County
HEARING ON H.R. 1842, TO TERMINATE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AMERICAN HERITAGE RIVERS INITIATIVE
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1997
House of Representatives,
Committee on Resources,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 12 p.m., in room 1324, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Helen Chenoweth presiding.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE HELEN CHENOWETH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mrs. CHENOWETH. [presiding] The Committee on Resources will come to order.
The Committee is meeting today to hear testimony on my legislation, H.R. 1842, which is a bill to stop the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
I would like to welcome our witnesses, many of whom have traveled thousands of miles to get here, and two of my constituents from Idaho, Lois Van Hoover, representing the Idaho Multiple Land Use Coalition, and Bill DeVeny, representing the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. We also have a number of Members of Congress today, and I welcome you all.
I'm honored to be here in the chair today, and I greatly appreciate Chairman Don Young's allowing me to conduct this hearing. I've been looking forward to it, but it seems to me that something is wrong with the picture that we're going to be seeing todaywrong procedurally. We are doing things exactly backward.
Generally, and if things are in correct constitutional order, it is the legislative branch of government that creates the programs and the executive branch that carries them out. Here, though, with the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, there's been a complete and literal flip-flop between the roles and duties of the Congress and the Clinton Administration. Instead of Congress making the proposal and the administration commenting on it, it is the Clinton White House dreaming up the initiative, and we, the Congress, are the ones commenting. We are actually in the position of taking testimony, not on the creation of a new program, but on how to stop one.
This initiative clearly violates the doctrine of separation of powers as intended by our Founding Fathers. And as James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 47, ''The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.''
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My colleagues, this American Heritage Rivers Initiative is being thrust upon the American people in the exact manner James Madison warned us against.
I introduced H.R. 1842 on June 10, shortly after President Clinton's American Heritage River Initiative was first published in the Federal Register. This legislation, which is co-sponsored by 38 Members, would prohibit Federal agencies from spending any funds on this unauthorized, unappropriated, and intrusive program.
On Sept. 11, and with no consultation with the leadership of Congress, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13061 directing 12 Federal agencies to implement this program. Many Americans are disturbed by this arbitrary use, and many would say ''abuse'' of Presidential authority.
I, along with millions of other Americans, was shocked and appalled that President Clinton would use so Draconian a process to rob people of their constitutional rights and patently ignore the legislative branch of government. However, I should not be surprised by this display of power. After all, this is the same administration which locked up 1.7 million acres in Utah without even consulting Utah's Governor and their congressional delegation, not to mention other State and local officials.
It's also the same administration that proposed a $64 million buyout of a mining property in Montana to a Canadian company without consulting the Montana Governor and its congressional delegation, or the U.S. Congress. This program is illegal, has not met public requirements, misappropriates funds Congress mandated for other purposes, and usurps individual water rights, private property rights, and the sovereignty of all 50 States. It defies the imagination how President Clinton could ram this initiative down our throats, despite massive resistance outside the Washington, DC beltway.
In addition to the violation of water and property rights, what I find very, very troubling is how an agency like CEQ, with a budget of only $2.4 million, can run a program like the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, which costs by very conservative efforts $4 million to $7 million every year so far. Where is the money coming from? And who appropriated it? Who authorized it to be spent like this?
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC No place in U.S. Statutes can you find the phrase, ''American Heritage Rivers Initiative,'' and no place can you find the position of a ''river navigator'' or the term ''river community.'' And this leads me to wonder whether the Anti-Deficiency Act of 1982, which prohibits and proscribes criminal sanctions for the expenditure of Federal funds for unauthorized purposes, is implicated.
And certainly one is left to wonder if this meets the requirements of 31 U.S.C. 1301(a), which states, ''Appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made.''
Beyond the constitutional and legal questions raised by the executive order, there are some fundamental questions that I share with many of my colleagues. If this program is 100 percent honorary, voluntary, and non-regulatory, then why is it being done by the Federal Government and with no less than 12 agencies?
If it is 100 percent voluntary, why does the program not explicitly require that the Federal agencies get written permission from private land owners before their land is included within an American Heritage Rivers designation?
And why did the Council on Environmental Quality totally ignore the request of 55 Members of the House, who requested that the public comment period on this initiative be extended beyond August 20?
I look forward to hearing Ms. McGinty's response to these and other questions, and I also look forward to hearing from other witnesses today.
Mr. Chairman, Ithe Chair now recognizes the Ranking Member, Mr. Pallone, for an opening statement.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE FRANK PALLONE, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PALLONE. Well, thank you for the title, Madam Chairman.
Let me first, if I could, request unanimous consent to include in the record four documents. One is a statement from Lieutenant Governor Bob Kustra, of Illinois, who was an invited witness but couldn't make it; second, testimony from Mayor Larry ChavisI guessof Richmond, Virginia; third, statements from Representative Furse and Representative Gejdenson, and, finally, a letter from, wellAmerican RiversI'm not sure exactly what that refers to, but American Rivers. I would ask unanimous consent to include those.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Without objection, so ordered.
[The prepared statement of Governor Kustra follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. BOB KUSTRA, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, ILLINOIS
Mr. Chairman. Distinguished members of the committee. I want to thank you for the opportunity to address what I believe is a very important issue not only for my state of Illinois but for the country in our efforts to improve our rivers and streams.
Just as our rivers and watersheds cross many governmental boundaries, our efforts to revitalize these resources must be a partnership of local, state and Federal efforts. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative proposed by President Clinton in his State of the Union Address, and detailed 2 weeks ago, provides us with a great opportunity for us to navigate through what some have seen as a river of bureaucratic red tape in getting the help and assistance we need for river improvement at the state and local levels.
We are currently in the process of preparing our nomination of the Illinois River Watershed for such designation.
The strength of this new initiative is that it will help us better coordinate Federal services and assistance. The Illinois River watershed is a vast Z5,000 square mile area encompassing 55 of our 102 counties. Approximately 80 percent of the river's watershed is within our state's jurisdiction, which is an asset; however, Federal agency programs in the watershed area also have a strong impact on the ecosystem, from navigation to soil conservation, from Chicago to St. Louis.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The improved service delivery, technical assistance, coordination of Federal involvement, and work toward our local communities' objectives will be key benefits this initiative can provide our Illinois River Watershed should we receive this designation.
Simply put, we see this initiative as providing coordination for a revitalization effort that will benefit not only our state but the entire nation as well.
This initiative embodies what many have said is a fundamental role of our Federal Governmentto complement local and state initiatives. We support this program for the following reasons:
1. The American Heritage Rivers initiative is voluntarywe initiate whether to participate or not. We realize the importance of the Federal Government in joining our state and local partnership in progress. No one has forced our hand in this matter, and should we receive this designation we may exit the program at any time.
2. It is locally drivenour communities throughout the 55 counties of the Illinois River Basin are currently at work with their efforts to improve the watershed. Those that live, work and play along the river know what's best for this vital resource. They will not give up their right to dictate the future of a river that has shaped the history of their communities. There will be no takeover under this Initiative.
No one, however, can underestimate the technological and informational resources that the Federal Government can provide to our local efforts. This initiative enables us to look to the Federal Government as a clearinghouse of knowledge and expertise in river improvement and revitalization. For towns like Havana, population 7,000, and larger cities like Chicago, this is an enormous opportunity to put the Federal Government to work for them, not the other way around.
3. There are no new regulations or rules dictated by the Federal Government. Contrary to what some critics of this proposal say, we find nothing in the materials that recommends further restricting what our local communities can or cannot do with their efforts along the river.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC4. There is also a great opportunity under this initiative to learn what the Federal Government is doing right and what it is doing wrong as it relates to our rivers and streams. Through this initiative, the Federal Government will be listening to state and local communities that have lived with Federal Government involvement in the past. This dialog and interaction at the local level will enable the Federal Government to study and improve how it provides assistance to communities throughout the nation.
Unfortunately, not all view this initiative in a positive light. It has been described as a program ''unleashing United Nations troops patrolling the Illinois River's curving path.'' The program has been portrayed as a ''new Federal land-use scheme,'' that the Federal Government ''will control all land use and will police this initiative by aerial photography and satellite surveillance.''
We have seen nor heard anything from the Federal Government that would indicate they are interested in pushing us around in Illinois. What they are interested in doing is maintaining the quality of one of this Nation's most important rivers. Furthermore, there is nothing in our plans for the Illinois River that could be described as a take-over, or that is in any way going to take land away from anyone.
While some may see controversy, we see opportunity in the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. We feel the Federal Government is needed here to be a partner, not a manager or boss.
To understand why I believe this initiative is important to my state, one must understand the integral part the Illinois River and its watershed have played in our state, regional, and indeed national histories.
The Illinois River flows diagonally across the State of Illinois, beginning southeast of Chicago and joining the Mississippi near St. Louis. Eighty percent of the lands that drain into the Illinois River are in the State of Illinois. Because of the ways we have used the river and the land, the river has experienced both decline and recovery.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fact, the National Research Council, which is associated with the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering, named the Illinois River as one of three river-floodplain ecosystems in the United States that are priorities for restoration.
Throughout the history of our nation's expansion westward, the Illinois River and its tributaries have served as a major transportation highway for goods and products.
More than 50 percent of the commercial traffic on the Mississippi River above St. Louis comes from the Illinois waterway;
More than 60 million tons of commodities are shipped on the Illinois River annually;
Approximately one half of the 1.4 billion bushels of corn produced in lllinois travel the Illinois waterway; and
Ninety percent of our state's population live and work within the Illinois River basin.
The Illinois River was once unparalleled in this country as a natural resource. But since the turn of the century, as the state's population and economic base grew, the Illinois River has experienced profound changes.
By the 1950's, virtually all aquatic vegetation had vanished from the Illinois River and its backwater lakes due to water pollution and modified water levels. As a result fish, mammals, waterfowl, clams, and other related life forms declined drastically. Without the vegetation, sediment was no longer anchored to the bottom of the riverbed and lakes, but rather was stirred up in the water by wind and boat movement.
To this point in the state's history, agricultural productivity soared, as did population growth and urban growth. The increasing movement of soil from the land, due to channelized streams, eroding streams, and land conversion greatly increased the amount of sediment reaching the Illinois River.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since this time, agricultural practices have been modified to keep more of the productive soil in place. Industries and municipalities have markedly improved sewage and wastewater treatment methods under the Clean Water Act.
As of 1995, more than three-fourths of the state's farmland is at ''T,'' the tolerable rate of soil loss where soil building processes replace the amount of soil lost. In the Upper and Lower Illinois River Basins, more than 4.2 million acres of cropland are in conservation tillage systems.
The Illinois River and its backwater areas occupy about one-third of the floodplain, of which 47,000 acres are in state and Federal ownership and 34,000 are owned by private sporting clubs. Forests along the Middle and Lower Illinois River are among the largest remnant forest ecosystems in the state north of the Shawnee National Forest. Today more than 20 communities rely on the waters of the Illinois and its tributaries for their drinking water, and sportfish and waterfowl populations are growing.
Citizen action in the Illinois River watershed also is widespread and diverse in communities like Meredosia with a population of just under 1,200 and in the Chicago suburbs 100 times the size of Meredosia.
The Chicago River, for example, is enjoying unprecedented attention for restoration and economic development. More than two hundred miles south, citizens in Meredosia have created a River Museum and annual Riverfest celebrating the river's past abundant fish, fowl and mussel populations that supported substantial harvests. In the early 1900's there were 15 factories along the Illinois River manufacturing buttons from mussel shells. In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the area's backwater lake is being restored through active management, providing habitat for migrating waterfowl. Walking paths and economic development are results that celebrate the river's past as well as Meredosia's future.
Despite the seemingly remarkable recovery, the future of the watershed and the river corridor are truly imperiled.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Each year more than 14 million tons of sediment are transported through the watershed. More than half of this sediment load is deposited in the Illinois River Valley, and the balance is carried to the Mississippi River.
Most backwater lakes have lost more than 70 percent of their storage capacity, destroying wildlife and recreational areas. In northeastern Illinois, during a recent 20-year span, land conversion for residential purposes grew by nearly 50 percent while population increased by less than 5 percent. Erosion control is needed on 4.1 million acres of cropland in the Upper and Lower Illinois River Basins.
Stormwater management is a vexing problem throughout the watershed. Sudden flooding, from both large and small storm events, occurs due to past alterations to speed water from the land. Swiftly moving waters take more sediment, carving away at stream banks.
The sediment, coupled with unseasonal flooding, yield a river system less capable of ''managing'' its sediment through a natural pattern of deposition, drying and compaction. Operation and maintenance of the navigation system is increasingly difficult, due to accumulation of sediment in the channel and rapidly fluctuating water levels.
The diversity of interests and stake holders throughout the watershed is evident in reviewing the history of the region. When issues and interests overlap and compete, disagreements often arise about which management approaches to take.
Yet, despite this diversity, there is strong agreement that the future condition of the watershed of the Illinois River and its tributaries will greatly influence the region's capacity for navigation, recreation, economic prosperity, and ecological balance.
We recognize that for our state, region and nation, if this important highway cannot be traveled, if this great recreational outlet cannot be utilized, and if this natural resource cannot be preserved, then our health is indeed in jeopardy.
Over the past 2 years, we have brought competing interest to the table to discuss ways to protect and restore the river, and we produced comprehensive management plan guided by principles rooted in fairness and emphasizing a volunteer approach.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In January as we unveiled this Integrated Management Plan for the Illinois River Watershed, I said, ''There are no quick fixes or easy outs. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, putting aside political and professional differences. We face a long-term commitment to seeing that this vital economic, ecological and aesthetic resource is improved for future generations.''
We have begun putting the recommendations of our plan in place. We know that this is a partnership of state and local entities, working with our private sector.
Carrying out these recommendations will go a long way toward saving the Illinois River for future generations. In the future, we must monitor our progress and evaluate our efforts, and we certainly must never forget just how important and fragile this river is.
I see the steps we have taken at the state and local level as providing the basis for a unique partnership with our Federal Government through the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Some 87 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt viewed the Illinois River and its valley from the scenic bluffs of Peoria's Grand View Dive. He said, ''I have traveled all over the world, and this is the world's most beautiful drive.''
It is our hope that the American Heritage Rivers Initiative and our state and local efforts already underway will once again enable passers-by to remark on the beauty of this great natural resource.
We have everything to gain by acting now to save this vital natural resource and everything to lose if action is not taken.
Again, I want to thank this Committee for the opportunity to address its members today and I look forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Chavis follows:]
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STATEMENT OF HON. LARRY CHAVIS, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF RICHMOND
Good morning ladies gentlemen, Chairman Young, Congressman Miller, members of the Resources Committee and all others who have taken the time to be with us here today.
Thank you for allowing us to address you todayfor the opportunity to tell youfrom a grass-roots and urban perspectivejust what the American Heritage Rivers Initiative has already done for localizes up and down Virginia's historic James River. Positive changes are happening on our river: changes brought about well in advance of any possible designation for the James as an American Heritage River.
Vice-Mayor Baskerville and I are here today as representatives of the James River Heritage Partnership.
We are a dedicated group of well over 150 individuals, representing
20 counties, 9 cities, 2 towns, 2 Native American Tribes,
8 regional planning district commissions,
dozens of non-profit agencies dedicated to outdoor recreation and natural resource protection, historic preservation and cultural awareness
dozens of riparian corporations, and most importantly
the hundreds and hundreds of private citizens in the communities along the James who are supportive of our efforts.
The mere fact that we have all come together to achieve a common goal is unprecedented in the history of Virginia. Given the state's unique political structurewhich often separates rather than unifies localitiesworking togetheras we are nowis the exception and not necessarily the rule. From this perspective, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative has already worked wonders for us.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On Friday of last week, the city of Richmond welcomed Senator Charles Robb and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater to the banks of the James River. This was a golden opportunity for members of the Partnership to show our guests the exciting, innovative programs happening along the James. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative affords riverfront cities like Richmond a chance to rediscover the vital roots of their downtowns, to once again nurture and enjoy riparian land that for years has either been isolated or underutilized.
Along the James River, we have
Extensive and ongoing waterfront development activities at Hampton Roads and Lynchburg,
Cooperative initiatives among all 19 soil and watershed conservation districts in the James River watershed to develop The Chesapeake Bay Tributaries Strategy.
Habitat restoration programs aimed at restoring and protecting the summer nesting grounds of the bald eagle, and year-round populations of striped bass, shad and river herring
None of these initiatives are being developed, I might add at to expense or exclusion of our corporate neighbors along the James, many of whom contribute significantly to river stewardship programs in addition to the important contributions they make to our regional economies.
The members of the James River Heritage Partnership are working together to
develop active programs that highlight the economic, cultural and natural resources of this important river, which represents the common wealth of our many diverse heritageswhether European, African, or Native American
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are working together to
Gain designation for the entire James River, from its headwaters at Irongate in Botetourt County to where the River flows into Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads, 450 miles of some of the most scenic lands in the entire country
We are working together to
Be among to first ten rivers to be rightly called an American Heritage River
We are working together because the river will continue to impact us all.
Since President Clinton announced this initiative during his 1997 State of the Union message the program has had its detractors. It is to the opponents of the President's Initiativesome of whom we respectfully address this morningthat I submit the following points for consideration:
First and foremost, The American Heritage Rivers Initiative does not seek to
jeopardize the rights of riparian property owners whether they are large corporate citizens so vital to the regional economy of western, central and/or Tidewater, Virginia or to the small farmers or other private individuals who own land adjacent to the river
The Initiative does not seek to
Advocate for the imposition of any new federal mandates or regulations that would in any way hamper the rights of riparian localities to make their own land use decisions.
For these reasons and so many others that time does not allow me to expound on, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative represents the potential for positive working relationships between federal agencies and local communities dedicated to being good stewards of their rivers. We sincerely hope that what you have heard today will enable you to make the right decision and allow for the American Heritage Rivers Initiative to go forward.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We thank you very much for the chance to give voice to our support of the President's Initiative. The City of Richmond anticipates great and lasting benefits to all Virginians should the James achieve the status of an American Heritage River. A status I might add that it greatly deserves.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Furse follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. ELIZABETH FURSE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
I appreciate the opportunity to express any strong support for the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
President Clinton announced this initiative as a way to assist local communities in realizing the goals of revitalization they have for their own rivers. By providing a supportive Federal-local partnership, this voluntary initiative will essentially help local people help themselves. The initiative involves no regulations, no Federal mandates, and no unwilling participants. Instead it helps communities tap into the myriad of resources available to restore and protect the environmental, cultural, recreational, and historic values of their favorite waterway.
Not only do I support the American Heritage Rivers Initiative in general, I specifically am supporting the nomination of the Willamette River, which flows through the heart of Portland, as one of the ten selected American Heritage rivers.
Oregonians remember the days when the Willamette was one of the most polluted rivers in the country. The waters of this river were so choked with pollution that when live fish were put in a basket and lowered into the river to check the water quality, it took only a minute and a half for the fish to die. Oregonians remember the phrase they used as youngsters to describe swimming in the riverthe ''Willamette River stroke''a phrase which refers to the fact that they would have to clear a path through the floating sewage debris in the water before they could swim.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But those days of neglect are gone and now the Willamette is the focus of a mayor campaign of restoration and protection. This effort has widespread local support and has been endorsed by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Oregon state agencies, the city of Portland, Portland Audubon Society, the Student Watershed Research Project at the Saturday Academy, the Willamette Riverkeepers and countless other organizations and citizens.
These Oregonians hope to capitalize on the assistance that would be provided through the American Heritage Rivers Initiative to turn their dream for the Willamette River into a reality.
I support these efforts to restore the Willamette and I support the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, which will help foster this and other local efforts to revive and celebrate the rich river heritage of this country.
[The information referred follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIO 1 HERE
Mr. PALLONE. Thank you. And Madam Chairman, let me say that I am opposed to your legislation, and I am very much supportive of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. I have to say very emphatically that my constituents, and not only in my district, but throughout the State of New Jersey, are very excited about this initiative and, frankly, I think, would be just as shocked to think that there is opposition to it as I think you are shocked to think that it would proceed.
So, I guess it sort of indicates that there is a big discrepancy, you know, maybe in different parts of the country or in different ideologies. But I do want to stress that this is something that a lot of people are excited about and are very much in favor of, not only in my district and in New Jersey but, I think, throughout the country.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I think the reason for that is very simple. Our country has been built around our Nation's rivers. From the very beginning rivers served as an essential means of transportation, as a conduit for trade and commerce, and as a source of unlimited recreational opportunities.
The goal of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, as announced by the President in the State of the Union address and as outlined in two separate Federal Register notices and an executive order that you mentioned that was signed by the President earlier this month, is to support communities in their efforts to restore and revitalize the economic, historic, cultural, recreational, and environmental values of their rivers. It's really not something, I think, that you can argue about in terms of the purpose of the initiative.
And, again, I would stress, this is a non-regulatory program. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative imposes no new Federal regulations. It's also a domestic initiative. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative does not give foreign governments or international organizations any role or authority over these rivers.
But really, most importantly, and I know that the Chairman mentioned it, but I have to stress again that this is a purely voluntary program. Local communities must nominate their own river for designation as an American Heritage river and must define their own plans for the river. In order to receive a designation, the nomination must have broad-based support from the local community, and it's my understanding that if the river nomination does not have the support of the Member of Congress from that district, it will more than likely be denied a designation as an American Heritage river.
If there's a river community in any Member's district that does not want to participate in this initiative for any reason, the community does not have to participate. I'm certain that those communities which are looking to have rivers designated would welcome the reduction in competition. I have to say that, actually, when I told some of my constituents that there were a lot of Members in Congress who were opposed to this, in some ways they were happy because they figured, well, maybe that means there's less competition; there won't be as many candidates.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The bottom line on the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is that it is really a prime example of good government at work. The initiative is going to reduce overlapping efforts among Federal agencies, cut bureaucracy and red tape, and spur economic development in local communities.
And I think thatI know that the Chairman mentioned the Council on Environmental Quality. That is really what I think the job of that council is. I mean, the whole purpose of the council and what I have seen them do, not only in this case, but in many others, is to simply try to reduce red tape, to cut bureaucracy, to basically bring together Federal agenciesI know the Chairman mentioned 12. In a way, that makes it more likely that a project moves forward in a collective way without having to go through a lot of hurdles.
And I've seen the Council on Environmental Quality most recently work very effectively in this way with an effort to put an end to the dumping of toxic dredge materials off the coast of my district in New Jersey. On September 1, we actually announced the end of the dumping of toxic dredge material. Kathy McGinty was there in New Jersey to announce it, and if it wasn't for the Council on Environmental Quality and their work in trying to basically sift through all of these different Federal agencies and come to a conclusion and get everybody collectively to come to a consensus, we would still have that dumping of toxic dredge material.
So, I think the purpose of the CEQ is pretty clear. I don't think it's to create more bureaucracy or to get around Congress. I think it's just the opposite. It's to try to bring Federal agencies together to establish a consensus, and I think this American Heritage Rivers Initiative is just another example of that.
None of these things are going to proceed without consensus, and I am certain that any Member of Congress could veto the proposal in their district and it wouldn't even get to the CEQ unless there was broad bipartisan support for the river being designated.
I would yield back, Madam Chairwoman.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Pallone. And without objection, I will also enter into the record the opening statement of Mr. Ken Calvert, my colleague from California.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Calvert follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. KEN CALVERT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Remarks on the American Heritage Rivers Initiative
I thank the Gentlelady from Idaho for bringing this issue before us today. The current Administration has consistently been waging a war on the West, treading on private property rights and the western way of life. Unfortunately, the Administration has once again gone too far with the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. I am shocked that the Administration blatantly tried to skirt around the democratic process by enacting the American Heritage Rivers Initiative without receiving Congressional approval. And carried this injustice one step further by shortening the required public comment period.
I cosigned the letter to the Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Katy McGinty advising her to extend the comment period, and I am proud to be a cosponsor of H.R. 1842, which would not only put a stop to further implementation of this initiative, but also cease all funding. The War on the West has gone on for too long, and its time we put a stop to it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Are there any other opening statements?
With that I'd like to just proceed, then, to the Members that we have in front of us. I'm very pleased that you're here; that demonstrates a lot of good interest, and I look forward to your testimonies.
Mr. RADANOVICH. Madam Chair? Helen?
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes. Yes, Mr. Radanovich.
Mr. RADANOVICH. I'd be curious to know, as we're discussing this issue with various witnesses, whether or not, especially Members, whether or not they have an interest for rivers in their own districts to be designated as opposed to rivers outside their district; if you would, please.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Would you please repeat that? I'm sorry, Mr. Radanovich.
Mr. RADANOVICH. I just want to make sure that any Member that is on record for supporting or opposing Heritage Rivers indicates that they have a special desire for rivers in their own districts or rivers in other Members' districts.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. We will, if there is no objection from the Congressman who will be testifying, we would like for you to indicate whether you are supporting rivers in your own district or the issue in general.
So, I would like to recognize the Honorable Nancy Johnson, first, for her testimony.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE NANCY JOHNSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you very much, and thank you, Madam Chairman for this opportunity. I appreciate your holding this hearing.
I am a strong proponent of the designation of the Connecticut River Basin as a national heritage river. It is the largest river basin in New England. It covers four States, and so on and so forth.
But my testimony today is in support of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. I respect the comments you made about how this was developed and the lack of communication, and I regret that. But I want to address myself to why I think this innovative approach is reallywhy it has been so embraced in New England and why there is so much enthusiasm for it among the local communities that I represent, all kinds of groups of people that I represent, because they really see it as an opportunity to better preserve the historic, cultural, economic, and environmental value of the rivers.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For the first time the small towns are seeing the values of the rivers, and so they're beginning to think that this could contribute to their economy. So there are a lot of ideas out there; there's going to be a lot of development. We need to makeI mean, I want to make sure that the development is harmonious with environmental preservation goals as well as economic revitalization goals, and so do the towns. So, we are a densely populated part of the country. We have small towns, and so along the river there are many towns.
You know, on some of the western rivers there are not so many towns along the river. There are lots of towns along our river, and so cooperation and coordination is extremely important, but it's also hard. Small towns cannot afford the kind of sophisticated personnel that can find, literally, the resources that we have already appropriated because they're inwhatsix or eight different Federal agencies. So, we have resources out there. We have technical assistance out there, but a little town with no expertise has a very hard time finding these programs, integrating them, coordinating with the town next to it.
And, truly, the opportunity here for a whole river basin to be able to have one person in the bureaucracy who knows that river and knows their problems and knows what people upstream are doing and what people downstream are doing is really just anwould be an extraordinary help to us; the problems inter-agency, the problems with a single agency.
We have had a tremendous success rehabilitating the river front in Hartford, and the river front in Hartford on both banks now has parks, recreational facilities, and amphitheaters at Riverfront Plaza. It's become a real economic driver for the city. The area now attracts major sporting events like professional water skiing competitions, but also was the site of the champion bass fishing tournament. Now who would associate that with Hartford, Connecticut? Nobody in their right mind, a few years ago.
So, we have dealt with the river in a way that's good for the river and good for the economy of this urban area. But the Hartford river front project could never have gone forward if they hadn't been able to get money from other places to get the sophisticated personnel. It took them 18 months to get the permit to just do a walkway across the river for pedestrians.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we really do need to be able to cut through the red tape. We really do need to be able to do inter-agency cooperation. Little towns need somebody out there who knows the whole river and what's being done and can provide them with that kind of help.
Let me just conclude, because I don't want to take too much of your time, but I spent 10 years working with this Committee to get the Farmington River designated as a wild and scenic river under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers program. And it took a long time, because in my part of the Nation local government is very, very strong, and people are very jealous of local power. And they were afraid that if you studied the river and you designated the river, you would control the river.
So, our designation legislation required a Committeethis was when Reagan was president his first termand we had representatives from every town on the Committee. The Department of Interior used to look at me and say, ''We don't do it this way. We don't do it this way.'' I said, ''You don't understand. We have to do it this way, because that's the way we govern in New England.''
Anyway, out of it we came up with a designation bill, then, that has set the model for New England, so now we have more rivers designated, but it is completely different than the old designation law because it retains the power to control development and property rights and all those issues along the river. And those towns committed themselves to a river preservation plan that the Department of Interior said would meet the wild and scenic river criteria, but it protected the local communities from that fear that the Federal Government would do to them that which they did not want done to them.
But it also gave the Federal Government support and gave the towns the support and the technical assistance and, in fact, the money to study the river in its initial phase that we needed in order to get a healthy river management plan and economic development plan in place. So, we have a unique local-Federal partnership under the wild and scenic rivers program through working with a part of the country that is absolutely committed to local control. So they see this as no new resources, no new authority, no new mandates, but an opportunity to have somebody help them break through the bureaucracy and the inter-agency barriers to developing and preserving our river.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, it's that part of it that I support. We're excited about it. We think we're the best application, and, as I say to the administration, you don't ever want to have a rivers program that's only western or only southern. And for a long time wild and scenics didn't have any designations in New England, so I hope, at least, the designations under this program will represent benefits across the Nation.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Johnson follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. NANCY L. JOHNSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you as a committed supporter of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Ever since President Clinton announced his intention to create this program, I have been among its leading supporters because this innovative approach is just what my local communities need to restore and revitalize their rivers and waterfronts. I recognized the promise this initiative holds for the historic, cultural, economic and environmental value of rivers such as the Connecticut River in my home state, simply by enabling local communities to gain better access to scattered Federal resources to achieve community defined goals.
The American Heritage Rivers Initiative is about making the Federal Government a better partner with local communities in river conservation and revitalization efforts. The program will assist river communities to gain timely and coordinated access to existing programs and resources. The objective here is to provide better delivery of Federal services in such a way that is not only approved by local residents, but is designed by local residents. It is entirely a ''bottom up'' program. For my fellow Republicans, this should represent a welcomed departure from more traditional conservation programs in that it moves away from the usual Federal command and control approach toward empowering local communities and supporting local initiatives.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Many of the supporters of H.R. 1842 cite their fear of an impending Federal land grab and the loss of private property rights as justification for blocking this program. But that will not happen under this initiative. This is an entirely voluntary program. Even the published notice in the Federal Register stated that ''The initiative will create no new regulatory requirements for individuals, or state or local governments.'' The President reiterated this just 2 weeks ago in a September 11 press conference in which he said, ''Every step of the way, the initiative will be driven by the needs and desires of the communities that choose to participate. There will be no Federal mandates, no regulations, no restrictions on property holder's rights.''
I believe the opposition to this program is based on a misunderstanding of its structure and differing regional needs. This program rests on the principle of local control and seeks to break through the bureaucratic barriers that currently block local access to existing Federal resources. Those barriers are real and paralyzing to small towns without sophisticated personnel and are particularly daunting to groups of small towns that want to coordinate development projects. Because we are an old and densely populated part of the nation, our river towns value this support to make cooperation easier and reduce bureaucratic and interagency barriers to need resources. The goal of this program is to improve the efficiency of government programs and promote economic growth in river towns. Those I represent welcome this new opportunity.
This initiative is as much about the future as it is about our past. I point to the Connecticut River and the new Riverfront in Hartford, Connecticut. On both banks of the river, parks, recreational facilities, amphitheaters and a riverfront plaza have been completed or are under development. This is providing a tremendous economic boon for the city. The area now attracts major sporting events like professional water ski competitions and championship bass fishing tournaments. When Bud Light sponsored a triathalon in 1992, it brought in more than 1100 athletes from more than 30 states with an estimated local economic benefit of $4 million. The American Fisheries Society will bring its national convention to Hartford in 1998 with an expected economic benefit of $2 million.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Riverfront was recognized by the prestigious American Rivers organization as being one of America's most improved urban rivers due to its phenomenal economic revitalization. And yet when you talk with those who were responsible for this change they can tell you how much red tape they had to deal with to move ahead with restoration or revitalization efforts. As successful as the Riverfront has been, it too had to contend with lengthy bureaucratic delays even though it was in constant consultation with the relevant agencies. It took the 18 months to receive approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to build a simple walk bridge. The Riverfront on the Connecticut River and other waterways like it would enjoy even greater success with the assistance that comes from receiving the designation of being an American Heritage River.
For the sake of the local communities that surround our great rivers, I urge the members of this Committee to support this voluntary approach to the preservation of river areas of historic and environmental value, to the expansion of cultural richness and to the economic revitalization of our great river basins as they run through old cities and pre-revolutionary towns alike.
I thank the members of the Committee and hope that my testimony will cause you to reevaluate this sensible conservation program.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Nancy Johnson. I appreciate your comments.
The Chair now recognizes Mr. Herger.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE WALLY HERGER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. HERGER. Thank you, Madam Chair, and members of the Committee, for this opportunity to express my strong support for your legislation and to share my strong concerns regarding the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And let me state at this time, on behalf of an overwhelming number of constituents who have contacted me over the last several months, our northern California district stands very strongly in opposition to any rivers being declared so under this Act within our northern California district.
This initiative sets a terrible precedent for overriding local involvement in land use, planning, and zoning issues, and totally disregards authority of established community governments. It also poses a serious threat to the rights of private property owners across the Nation. Seventy percent of the total land base in the United States is owned by private individuals. By implementing a program that requires increased Federal intervention in private property use and enjoyment, this initiative sets up a situation ripe with the potential for abuse.
Traditionally, the Federal Government has allowed private property owners free use and maintenance of their land, so long as it does not interfere with the use and enjoyment of surrounding property owners. This initiative, however, bypasses established procedures and interjects the Federal Government into the planning and zoning processes historically undertaken at local levels as a function of properly elected local government.
Planning and zoning activities have developed along a finely balanced set of practices and principles that ensures each individual in the community first, has the right to be heard and, second, that he or she has the right to reasonably use his or her property. By allowing this Federal intervention, the Clinton Administration interjects the Federal Government in the local decision process and forces private land owners to subjugate their own land use interest to that of the Federal Government.
How is this accomplished? To begin with, the Executive Order fails to define how much land and how many jurisdictions will make up the land base of the nominated rivers. Furthermore, the person in charge of administering the designated river, called a river navigator, would be appointed solely by the President. By disregarding existing political boundaries and by appointing another Federal agent, whose job is held only at the behest of the President, residents of the river community are left with no political recourse to address damages suffered as a result of the river designation.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Through tradition and well-established legal practices, the Supreme Court has granted States and communities the authority to institute local planning and zoning commissions. Under this valid authority, these commissions follow a well-defined process to develop a master plan for their communities. This master plan is shared with the public. Proper notice is given. Comments are submitted and hearings are held. Then the master plan is voted on and officially adopted.
Unless this process is followed, and members of the public are given the opportunity to participate, comment, and vote, the courts have held time and time again that any regulatory zoning ordinance pursuant to the master plan is considered invalid.
The American Heritage Rivers Initiative, on the other hand, completely disregards this process and unilaterally throws out more than 100 years of land use, planning, and zoning laws. In addition, once an area is designated, there is no mechanism in place to allow the community to undesignate itself. Without this power in place, the President's designation of a river as an American Heritage River becomes permanent.
In effect, this initiative therefore imposes an Escalante monument on the different rivers every year. And with 70 percent of this Nation owned by private individuals, it will do so in many areas where no Federal interests currently exists. According to administration officials, however, we have nothing to fear, quote: ''This is a voluntary program,'' close quote. They say that only serves to, quote, ''facilitate cooperation between communities and the Federal Government,'' close quote.
We are all in favor of the benefits of facilitated cooperation; however, there is a cost involved that I do not believe the American public is willing to pay. I do not understand how adding another agency to the Federal bureaucracy makes anything easier for local communities. Why, in an age where we talk about re-inventing government do we turn around and create more of the same? What communities really need are for current Federal agencies to live up to their existing duties and are more accountable to their stewardship.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Madam Chair, and members, over the last couple of months I have continually heard from the citizens of my rural northern California district regarding this issue. American Heritage Rivers had become one of the hottest topics in my area. I am here to relay my constituents' overwhelming sentiment opposing this initiative, and urge this Committee and this Congress on their behalf to make sure that not a penny is spent on its implementation.
Again, I thank you for this opportunity to testify at your hearing.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Herger follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. WALLY HERGER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Thank you Mr. Chairman and Members of the committee for this opportunity to share my concerns regarding the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
This initiative sets a terrible precedent for overriding local involvement in land use, planning, and zoning issues, and totally disregards authority of established community governments. It also poses a serious threat to the rights of private property owners across the nation. Seventy percent of the total land base in the United States is owned by private individuals. By implementing a program that requires increased Federal intervention in private property use and enjoyment, this initiative sets up a situation ripe with the potential for abuse. Traditionally, the Federal Government has allowed private property owners free use and maintenance of their land so long as their activities do not interfere with the use and enjoyment of surrounding property owners.
This initiative, however, bypasses established procedures and interjects the Federal Government into the planning and zoning processes historically undertaken at local levels as a function of properly elected local government. Planning and zoning activities have developed along a finely balanced set of practices and principles that ensure each individual in the community first, has the right to be heard, and second, that he or she has the right to reasonably use his or her property. By allowing Federal intervention, the administration interjects the Federal Government in the local decision process and forces private landowners to subjugate their own land use interests to that of the Federal Government. How is this accomplished?
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To begin with, the executive order fails to define how much land and how many jurisdictions will make up the land base of the nominated rivers. Furthermore, the person in charge of administering the designated river, called a river navigator, will be appointed solely by the President. By disregarding existing political boundaries, and by appointing another Federal agent whose job is held only at the behest of the President, residents of the river community are left with no political recourse to address damages suffered as a result of the river designation.
Through tradition and well-established legal principles, the supreme court has granted states and communities the authority to institute local planning and zoning commissions. Under this valid authority these commissions follow a well-defined process to develop a master development plan for their communities. This master plan is shared with the publicproper notice is given, comments are submitted and hearings are held,then the master plan is voted on and officially adopted. Unless this process is followed, and members of the public are given the opportunity to participate, comment and vote, the courts have held time and time again that any regulatory zoning ordinance instituted pursuant to the master plan is considered invalid.
The American Heritage Rivers Initiative, on the other hand, completely disregards this process and unilaterally throws out more than 100 years of land use, planning and zoning laws. In addition, once an area is designated, there is no mechanism in place to allow the community to undesignate itself. Without this power in place, the President's designation of a river as an American Heritage River becomes permanent. In effect, this initiative therefore imposes an Escalante Monument on ten different rivers every year, and with 70 percent of this nation owned by private individuals it will do so in many areas where no Federal interest exists.
According to administration officials, however, we have nothing to fear. ''This is a voluntary Program,'' they say, that only serves to ''facilitate cooperation between communities and the Federal Government.'' We are all in favor of the benefits of facilitated cooperation, however, there is a cost involved that I do not believe the American public is willing to pay. I do not understand how adding another agency to the Federal bureaucracy makes anything easier for local communities. Why, in an age where we talk about reinventing government, do we turn around and create more of the same?
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What communities really need are Federal agencies that live up to their existing duties and are more accountable for their stewardships.
Mr. Chairman, and Members, over the last couple months I have continually heard from the people of my rural Northern California district regarding this issue. American Heritage Rivers has become one of the hottest issues in my district. I am here to relay my constituents' overwhelming sentiment opposing this initiative and urge this Committee and this Congress, on their behalf, to make sure that not a penny is spent on its implementation.
Again thank you for this opportunity to testify at this hearing.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Herger. I appreciate your testimony.
The Chair now recognizes the Honorable Cliff Stearns.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE CLIFF STEARNS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. STEARNS. Good morning, Madam Chairwoman, and let me just say I'm delighted to be here and have the opportunity to speak. As you know, and perhaps members of the staff know, that I am a co-sponsor of your bill to terminate the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
My colleague from Connecticut mentioned the good that this billthat the intention of the American Heritage Rivers has with it. Let me point out that all of usall of uswant to care about our national rivers and waterways, but the administration's plan does it without the participation of Members of Congress and the State legislatures.
I pose this question for the Members of Congress: Would you like to have this country run by notices in the Federal Register? Wouldn't you like to have an opportunity for debate on the House floor and the Senate, and then we advise the President? Well, what the President did is notify the people that he was going to establish this program in the Federal Register. And as you'll recall, this proposal was only allowed a 3-week pubic comment instead of the required 3 months. But there was a lot of objection; a lot of people didn't understand, so it was extended from June 9, 1997 until August 20, 1997.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Clearly, many people in my State, in my congressional district in Florida, were very concerned. There was some talk about designating the St. John's River, which is in the State of Florida, and it is a beautiful river. But the question became, What about private property owners, people who are close and contiguous to the river? Who would decide if their property was going to be impacted? How would they have a say-so?
And, you know, when you looked at the recent Federal Register notice, there was one page offered of vague and nebulous language about water rights, land use, planning, and water quality standards. But it did not address the fundamental issue of how a private land owner can be excluded from a designation. You own the property, you don't want to be a part of it, you don't want to abide by this, quote, ''river navigator.''
So the real question is, Are private property owners going to be impacted? And why won't the administration bring it through Congress and let us have a bill and debate it, instead of notifying all the people of this fine land that their going to do X-Y-Z in the Federal Register?
Now as you know, the Senate had a vote yesterdaylast weekconcerning this, by Senator Tim Hutchinson, and he simply said, ''Let's require that all private land owners that abut the affected rivers be notified of this proposed designation.'' There was great debate on this; it did not pass.
But I think it's incumbent upon us, who have been elected by the people, who represent the people, to say to ourselves, ''Let's not let the Federal Register decide what we're going to do in this country. Don't let a water management within a State decide and apply for permanent Federal regulation and designation without the State representative, the State senator, the Governor, the Congressman, and the Senator having some say-so and debate it openly. If the administration wants to push this, come to Congress, ask for funding. Don't strip out funding from 13 different Federal agencies and use that money under clandestine operations to push the American Heritage Rivers program.''
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because they continually say, ''Well, it's not going to cost any money. It's all voluntary.'' But they're taking money from all these different appropriations, and that's how they're doing it. So let's ask the administration to come back to Congress and propose their bill, and let's talk about it. The administration's claim continually to say that this is voluntary, and this is something that can be debated on a local level sort of sidesteps the issue that Congress should be involved, and the Governors, as well as the State senators and State representatives.
So, obviously, Madam Chairman, I support H.R. 1842, and I think this is an attempt by the administration to sidestep Congress, just like they tried to do with Fast Track and some of these other agreements where there's not the participation. And, so, I hope your bill passes. I hope many of the people on my side will realize that they have a fiduciary responsibility to speak out and try and let Congress take an act and implement this before the administration does it without our vote. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Stearns. It was good to hear your testimony.
And the Chair now recognizes The Honorable Robert Scott. Mr. Scott.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ROBERT SCOTT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you Madam Chairman, members of the Committee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to speak about the importance of preserving the American Heritage Rivers Initiative set forth by the President in an Executive Order issued earlier this month.
The preservation of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is important, because just the designation of a river as an American Heritage River alone will serve as a catalyst to increase tourism, economic development, environmental protection, and preserve our heritage with virtually no additional resources, other than what's already been appropriated.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This initiative builds on existing community efforts, both public and private, and provides coordination with Federal agencies to further enhance efforts for economic revitalization, environmental protection, and historic and cultural preservation.
I'm sure that there are several excellent candidates for designation as American Heritage rivers, and one is the James River in Virginia. And in response to the gentleman from California's inquiry, that's in my district and one that we're very excited about. The communities surrounding the James River, including many of those in my district, are excited about this opportunity and are aggressively seeking designation as one of the first rivers in the Nation to be designated an American Heritage river, and fittingly so.
The James River is America's first river. The first forts and farms and churches and villages, even the first hospital in the English-speaking colonies, were all built along its shores. From the first settlers at Jamestown, to the battlefields of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, to the dry docks of the Newport News shipyard and other shipyards along the James River, the James has played an important role in the development of this country.
The James River watershed, covering approximately 25 percent of the State, has provided significant opportunities for river-related industries along its 340-mile course for centuries for its surrounding communities, including tourism, national defense, ship-building, commercial fishing, agriculture, and more recently, Virginia's growing industry, the wine industry. It is home for the world's largest natural harbor in Hampton Roads, a harbor which easily accommodates America's biggest ships, the 90,000-ton aircraft carriers.
Communities surrounding the James have made a tremendous headway in restoring its grandeur. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on projects to improve the water quality in an effort to preserve the James and to promote a healthier Chesapeake Bay. Efforts include the Virginia History Initiative, a public-private partnership to develop the historical resources and tourism in Virginia, and the James River Days, held since 1995 for white-water races and clean-up days and historical re-enactments. So communities of Virginia are committed to preserving the James.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While there are numerous initiatives on the State and local level to enhance the James, at present there is no collective plan of action with regard to river-related activities. The American Heritage River designation will serve as a catalyst to transform the current piecemeal approach of individual local programs into a program with a broader agenda, whose purpose is to assist in the historic preservation, the environmental protection, and economic revitalization along the entire James.
The 30 localities along the length of the river, along with their respective planning district commissions, are actively involved in the planning and consideration of efforts to gain designation for the James as an American Heritage river. The effort is currently being led by the James River Heritage Partnership, a coalition of governmental, civic, and business leaders from 20 counties, nine cities, two towns, and two Indian tribes.
I would, therefore, urge your skepticism of any efforts which would stand in the way of the effort to combine Federal, State, and local resources in the pursuit of a comprehensive approach in restoring America's rivers for current and future generations. Far from being a Federal take-over, this Executive Order sets forth coordination of existing Federal resources with those communities who voluntarily wish to apply to participate in the program.
For those States or communities which have concerns about the program because of perceived interference from the Federal Government, I would offer this simple advice: Don't apply. I implore you not to prevent other communities from taking advantage of what others would want to pass up. America's first river, the James River, wants to and deserves to be designated as the first American Heritage river. Thank you very much.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Scott.
And the Chair now recognizes Doc Hastings, from Washington. Mr. Hastings.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DOC HASTINGS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HASTINGS. Thank you, Madam Chairman, for allowing me to testify before your Committee this morning in support of H.R. 1842 and to tell you of my opposition to the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. I would like to express my strong support for the measure before you which would stop, I believe, all further development and implementation of the President's American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Let me emphasize this point, that this is simply not a new regulation; rather, it is an entirely new program that should be authorized, or at the very least debated, by this Congress. This is not only a new way of delivering Federal services, but it also provides for a new Federal service. Let me emphasize that point: It's not a new way to deliver Federal services, but it is, indeed, in my mind, a new Federal service. And if this program is truly a better way to deliver Federal services, why don't we just authorize this new delivery system government-wide?
How will this program help or hurt local residents and private property owners? How will this new program affect the funding of different agencies that are involved? These are questions that are normally answered during the thorough debate that Congress engages in when new programs are laid before us. However, this administration is attempting to circumvent the constitutional role of Congressoversight and approval of new programsand in my mind, to prevent an open and fair discussion regarding the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
In addition, this administration does not have a stellar record when it comes to protecting private property rights and ensuring local decisionmaking authority in important regional actions. For example, in central Washington, which is part of my legislative or congressional district, we have seen this administration attempt to control regional land use on a massive scale through the Columbia Basin Ecosystem management project. That proposal would, through new regulations, control over 70 million acres in the Northwest.
Last year, the administration attempted to regulate eastern Washington by designating the entire region a sole-source aquifer. Well, since the sole-source aquifer designation hasn't taken hold and the ecosystem management project appears to have slowed downand I might say mainly through the actions of the Congress in the funding areathis administration has found a new way to impose their bureaucratic regulations in the Westthe American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC All new proposals of this scope should be debated by Congress, period. Without a fair and open debate, how can we know what the true intent is of the program? The simple answer is, is that we can't, and that is precisely the reason why I urge this Committee to favorably approve H.R. 1842. We must stop this new initiative before the administration finally succeeds in thwarting the will of Congress and the U.S. citizens, and usurping control of our land by passing countless new regulations.
And Madam Chairman, I would like to submit for the record two articles, an editorial from the Tri-City Herald in my district, and a newspaper article from the Seattle Times talking about the problems that the tri-city area is having with the land transfer problem.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HASTINGS. And I bring it to your attention for this reason. In the last Congress we passed legislation to allow along the Columbia River, which is one of the great rivers in the country, transfer of Federal propertyspecific Corps of Engineers propertyto the local entities, and there are five local entities that are involved in this.
This article of August 17 and the editorial of August 17, point out the difficulties that these local communities are having in getting the Corps of Engineers simply to sit down and transfer the land. Now I bring this to your attention because, undoubtedly, somebody is going to come up here in favor of this initiative and say, ''This is precisely what the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is supposed to resolve.''
Well, I would conclude this: Why is it that we have to have another government nanny, if you will, to oversee what government is supposed to do for people in the first place? So, if somebody were to come up here and say that this is precisely what this new initiative is all about, to take care of all of the problems in the tri-city area on the Columbia River, I hope one of you will ask the question of why we have to have this government nanny to oversee what government is supposed to do for people in that area.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So with that, Madam Chairman, I want to thank you for this hearing, and thank you for the opportunity to allow me to testify this morning.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hastings follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. DOC HASTINGS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
Mr. Chairman: Thank you for allowing me to testify before your Committee this morning in support of H.R. 1842. I know you have several more witnesses and I'll keep this as short as possible.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, H.R. 1842 would stop all further development and implementation of the President's new program, the ''American Heritage Rivers Initiative.'' And let me emphasize that point. This is a new way of delivering Federal services but it also provides a new Federal service. And if this program is a better way to deliver Federal services, why don't we authorize this new delivery system government wide?
How will this new program help or hinder the local residents and private property owners? How will this new program affect the funding of the different agencies involved?
These are questions that are normally answered during the thorough debate that Congress engages in when new programs are laid before us. However, the Administration is attempting to circumvent the Constitutional role of Congressoversight and approval of new Federal programsand prevent an open and fair discussion regarding the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Furthermore, the Administration does not have a stellar record when it comes to protecting private property rights and ensuring local decision-making authority in important regional actions. In Central Washington alone, we have seen this Administration attempt to control regional land use on a massive scale through the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project. This proposal would, through regulation, control over 70 million acres in the Northwest. Last year, the Administration attempted to regulate Eastern Washington by designating the entire region a ''sole source aquifer.''
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since the Sole-Source Aquifer didn't work, and the Ecosystem Management Project appears doomed, the Administration has found a new way to impose their bureaucratic regulations in the Westthe American Heritage Rivers Initiative. All new proposals of this scope should be debated by Congress, period. Without a fair and open debate, how can we know the true intent of the program? The simple answer is, we can't. And that is precisely the reason I would urge you to approve H.R. 1842. We must stop this new initiative before the Administration finally succeeds in thwarting the will of the citizens and usurping control of our land by passing countless new regulations.
Thank you Mr. Chairman, for having this hearing and allowing me to testify.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Hastings, and without objections, we will accept into the record the documents that you suggested.
I would love to hear from Mr. Reyes, but it looks like we're just going to be able to run and make the vote. We have three votes coming up, and Mr. Reyes, I think it will take about a half-hour; there are three procedural votes. We will recess temporarily, and then be back in 30 minutes; we look forward to hearing from you then.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The Committee will come to order. The Chair now recognizes The Honorable Jo Ann Emerson, from the State of Missouri. Ms. Emerson.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JO ANN EMERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MISSOURI
Mrs. EMERSON. Madam Chairman, and members of the Committee, I want to first thank you for holding this hearing on an important subject that is of great interest to many, many of my constituents in southern Missouri, and for allowing me to testify.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you certainly know, there is great concern among the public about exactly what this initiative entails and many yet unanswered questions about exactly what is being proposed.
I'll get right to the point, because I know you have other witnesses that you would like to hear. In my opinion, the Executive Order signed by the President on September 11 of this year, while well-intentioned, I'm sure, has the potential to seriously erode one of our most fundamental rightsthe right of property ownership.
While the broad goals as outlined by the President and the Council on Environmental Quality to ''help communities protect their river resources in a way that integrates natural resource protection, economic development, and the preservation of historic and cultural values'' are laudable and things we all support, there are still many questions to be raised about exactly what is being proposed.
The problem, as I see it, is that we have an Executive Order that, originating from the executive branch, has not gone through the committee process and has lacked any congressional review. Had it not been for the strong interest of this Committee and other Members, including myself, to request that the ridiculously abbreviated comment period be extended, I have no doubt that this proposal would have moved forward quietly within the walls of the White House with few, if any, Members of Congress aware of it. So I applaud you for being out in front and really paying very close intention.
Second, this proposal is far-reaching and broad in its mandate. It's my understanding, from what I have read, that funding for this initiative would come from nine Cabinet departments, and, in addition to that, there is proposed funding from a number of agencies, including the EPA, the NEA, the NEH, and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation. I think that in these times of making our government smaller and more efficient, I can hardly see how a proposal that includes nine Cabinets and numerous other agencies is in step with our efforts to streamline government.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition, it is my contention that, from the outset, this proposal has been controlled by environmental groups that have tried on many occasions to stop economic development, navigation, flood control, and any other activities on our Nation's inland water system that may be contrary to their agenda.
I know that most of the meetings held by the CEQ were dominated by the input of what I call preservationist-type environmental groups, and while I was not invited to participate in one of these meetings, a very close friend of mine, but who is an extreme environmental activist, I might say, did attend and warned that this could, in fact, be a black hole.
I know that none of my constituents were invited to attend, as well, and while I applaud being able to have public hearingspeople notified through the Federal Register via Heritage Rivers web sitemost of the people in my district don't have computers, and I dare say that they wouldn't know to look in the Federal Register, as I'm sure few people in the country would know to do.
Madam Chairperson, the entire eastern boundary of my congressional district borders the Mississippi River, and the Missouri River runs through the middle of the Show-Me State just to our north. Both of these rivers have proved vital for our State, our region, and our country's commerce and productivity. Citizens of Missouri have fought many, many battles over the years, most recently the Midwest floods of 1993 and 1995.
We have battled many, many proposals to let our network of levees and flood control structures give way to ill-conceived ideas of allowing our rivers to run their natural course along their original flood plains. So, quite naturally, you can understand why we're a little leery, to say the least, of proposals that claim to, quote, ''enhance,'' end-quote, our rivers. Enhancing can take on a variety of meanings, depending on who is leading the enhancement.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I've heard from literally hundreds of constituents throughout southern Missouri who are adamantly opposed to the creation of this new bureaucracy. I'm also very pleased, Madam Chairman, that you have introduced legislation to prohibit any Federal funding to be used to implement the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, and the hundreds of constituents who have contacted me have asked me to support your legislation, which I have proudly done.
It's also my understanding that Senator Hutchinson offered an amendment to the Interior Appropriations during floor consideration in the Senate that called for land owner consultation and input, a clear definition of a river community, and to make the initiative subject to the existing provisions of the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. Unfortunately, it failed by a few votes, and I must say that I thought that the Senator's amendment was certainly very responsible, and I'm very sad that it did, in fact, fail.
In closing, I'd like to state for the record that most citizens in my congressional district are not necessarily opposed to most of the concepts in this initiative. Everyone wants to revitalize communities, bring in economic development, and make our cities and towns more productive places in which to live and work. But, as you may know, Missouri is the Show-Me State, and we feel like we have yet to know and to be shown exactly how this plan is supposed to work. Until my constituents have a clear understanding of how this may or may not directly impact them, they're going to remain naturally skeptical and largely opposed to this initiative.
So I thank you again, Madam Chairman, for allowing me to testify on this important issue, and I stand ready to help in any way and would be glad to answer any questions you might have.
[The prepared statement of Mrs. Emerson follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JO ANN EMERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MISSOURI
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to first thank you for holding this hearing on an important subject that is of great interest to many, many of my constituents in Southern Missouri and for allowing me to testify. As you certainly know, there is great concern among the public about exactly what this initiative entails and many yet unanswered questions about exactly what is being proposed.
I'll get right to the point because I know you have other witnesses that you would like to hear. In my opinion, the Executive Order signed by the President on September 11th of this year, while well-intentionedI'm surehas the potential to seriously erode one of our most fundamental rightsthe right of property ownership. While the broad goals as outlined by the President and the Council on Environmental Quality to ''help communities protect their river resources in a way that integrates natural resource protection, economic development and the preservation of historic and cultural values'' are laudable and things we all support, there are still many questions to be raised about exactly what is being proposed.
The problem, as I see it, is that we have an Executive Order that, originating from the Executive branch, has not gone through the committee process and has lacked any congressional review. Had it not been for the strong interest of this Committee and other Members, myself included, to request that the ridiculously abbreviated comment period be extended, I have no doubt that this proposal would have moved forward quietly within the walls of the White House with very few, if any, Members of Congress aware of it.
Second, this proposal is far-reaching and broad in its mandate. It is my understanding that funding for this initiative would come from 8 Cabinet departments including the Departments of Defense, Justice, Transportation, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Energy. In addition, there is proposed funding from a number of agencies as well: EPA, NEA, NEH and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation. In these times of making our government smaller and more efficient, I can hardly see how a proposal that includes 8 cabinets and numerous other agencies is in step with our efforts to streamline government.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition, it is my contention that from the outset, this proposal has been controlled by environmental groups that have tried on many occasions to stop economic development, navigation, flood control, and any other activities on our nation's inland waterway system that may be contrary to their agenda. I know that most of the meetings held by the CEQ were dominated by the input of what I call preservationist-type environmental groups.
Mr. Chairman, the entire eastern boundary of my congressional district borders the Mississippi River, and the Missouri River runs through the middle of the Show-Me state just to our north. Both of these rivers have proved vital for our state, our region, and our country's commerce and productivity. The citizens of Missouri have fought many battles over the past few years due to the Midwest floods of 1993 and 1995. We have battled proposals to let our network of levees and flood control structures give way to ill-conceived ideas of allowing our rivers to run their natural course along their original flood plains. So quite naturally, we are a little leery, to say the least, of proposals that claim to ''enhance'' our rivers. Enhancing can take on a variety of meanings depending on who is leading the enhancement.
I have heard from literally hundreds of constituents throughout Southern Missouri who are adamantly opposed to the creation of this new bureaucracy. Mr. Chairman, our colleague and a valued member of your Committee, Mrs. Chenoweth, has introduced legislation, H.R. 1842, to prohibit any Federal funding to be used to implement the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. Congress should act upon this bill soon and without delay. It is my understanding that Senator Hutchinson offered an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill during floor consideration that called for landowner consultation and input, a clear definition of a river community, and to make the initiative subject to the existing provisions of the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. Unfortunately, it failed by just a few votes.
In closing, I would like to state for the record that most citizens in my congressional district are not necessarily opposed to most of the concepts in this initiative. Everybody wants to revitalize communities, bring in economic development, and make our cities and towns more productive places to live and work. But as you may know, Missouri is the Show-Me state and we feel like we have yet to be shown exactly how this plan is supposed to work. Until my constituents have a clear understanding of how this may or may not directly impact them, they will remain naturally skeptical and largely opposed to this initiative. Thank you, again, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to testify on this important issue and I stand ready to help in any way that I can.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mrs. Emerson. I appreciate your testimony, and we will certainly stay in touch.
Mrs. EMERSON. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you.
The Chair recognizes The Honorable Mr. Kanjorski. Thank you for being here.
Mr. KANJORSKI. Thank you very much, Mrs. Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE PAUL KANJORSKI, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. KANJORSKI. Madam Chairman, I appreciate the hearings today, and I look at this as an opportunity to really analyze what the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is all about.
First, if I may say, to be facetious, I had suggested that maybe we do an amendment to the President's order and disqualify everyone west of the Mississippi River and south of the MasonDixon line, with the exception of the James River of Virginia.
I understand the fierce individuality of the West and the South, and I think since we're all one Union we have to take that into consideration. But the effort and the openness expressed by the administration in putting together the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, I think, is to be responded to in a remarkable way and not in a conflicting way.
I look at this whole approach as intelligently, for the first time, analyzing what should be done with our waterways. And let me say that I come to it as a resident of one of the major old rivers of Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River. It has suffered through both feast and famine, if you will. It provided the mechanism for travel that sparked the coal and the wood of the Industrial Revolution of America. And it has been badly misused and abused to the point now that it is, in my area of Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania, the major industrial polluter of the Chesapeake Bay because of the old mine operations and the leakage therefrom of acid mine water and the various spoilings that occurred as a result of bad mining practices of 150 and 100 years ago.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I look at the opportunity of the Heritage Rivers to rekindle and refocus the spirit of local communities and local people to solve a problem that has been long there and ignored. Now, I look back at Europe and I compare it to America, and I say, ''That's why the challenge.''that I would like to congratulate the administration about.
We have a window of opportunity here. It's a very short period of time, perhaps a decade or two, and after that, the land masses along our rivers will be exposed to private ownership to the extent that any attempt to use some natural methods and methodologies of cleaning the water, such as re-manufacture of wetlands, will be lost.
All a Member of Congress has to do to understand this is travel through Europe, and particularly the great Rhine River of Germany. There is absolutely no way that the river can be reconstituted into clean water in any other way but a manual and very expensive cleaning process, simply because, through density and population expansion, there are no lands along the river available any longer to natural uses for water cleanliness.
So I urge that we support what it's doing, and I think as Mr. Scott said, those Members of Congress, those States and those communities that either fear black helicopters or fear some conspiratorial intention of the U.S. Government, let them wait for the second or the third round. There's nothing wrong with that.
Those of us in the industrial Northeast and Midwest, that understand that we have a limited time of opportunity to solve the problems along our rivers or forever lose their benefits, should be given the opportunity to act now.
The major compliment, I think, toward the entire endeavor is, it isn't re-instilling government; it isn't a new program. It's reinventing government in its finest way. There isn't a Member of this Congress that can't appreciate the fact that regardless of all of the projects and all of the programs that we fund and put into place, sometimes we suffer from Catch22 results. They just don't get done, or they don't get done properly.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This whole concept of a navigator is not something to be feared. It's something to be taken into consideration in terms of, ''It's government at its best.'' It's going to use the programs and the projects that are out there, but they're going to be used in a more efficient and a more effective way and a more focused way. I only wish that we could take this example, study it for several years, and perhaps apply the navigator approach to economic development.
You know, I sit on the Banking Committee, and I've been heavily involved in economic development programs in this country for the last 13 years. And the one thing I can tell you that is lacking in all of these programs is the inability to have the money focused and placed and targeted in those areas that most need it, and the reason being is those areas usually lack the grantsmanship and the talent and the focused ability to know what programs are out there, how they can be used, and how they can be utilized for economic development. And the same thing is very true about the natural resources of this country.
In Pennsylvania, so unlike other States in the Union, we have 2,400 municipalities in Pennsylvania. Along the Susquehanna River, there's got to be, in Pennsylvania alone, more than 700 municipalities and probably 18 counties.
There's absolutely no way in the world that they can come together and have an impact on that river unless they are coordinated and focused by the intentions of the Federal Government, the State governmentand then, with all the tools possibleand then the navigator. It is a hope for us that this will be an opportunity to re-focus people and to take us out of the political structure of the 19th Century and, indeed, lead us to the 21st Century so that we can be competitive.
And if we can take a natural resource, such as a river, and accomplish that end, we will accomplish two things. We will have saved our natural resources, the beauty of our river, and the healthfulness of our river, but also it will be a great tool for economic development, and it will be a great tool for reinventing government, even at the local level, which, quite frankly, contrary to most of my colleagues in Congress, I sort of fear the concept of devolution.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We devolve power to where? To the States? To local government?that at this point in Pennsylvania, 95 percent of our municipal governments have a population of less than 3,500 people and no professionalism at all at the local level. At the State level, where they refuse to take the responsibility of the administration of programs and projects that are presently in existence in the Federal Government, and lose the wherewithall and the support of the moneys that are available?
All anyone has to do to understand and appreciate the benefits of the American Heritage Rivers concept is to come to Pennsylvania, and you don't have to come to my district in Pennsylvania. You can go to any river in any district in Pennsylvania, and you'll fast appreciate that this concept of reinventing government, that this administration is instilling through this program, will provide an efficient and effective way to use existing programs that really accomplish an end and will have objectives that can be tested.
I urge this Committee to put aside partisanship, put aside ideology, put aside philosophies that may be held because of the particular regions or areas of the countries or propensities we have when we come. And if you in the West, if those in the South, that cannot see the benefit of this program, let them stand aside. Let us show the way in the Northeast, as we did for independence and liberty in this country, once again, that we have a window of opportunity to save our resources. Let us do it, and do not pass the pending legislation to inhibit that program.
Thank you very much.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Kanjorski. I really appreciated your comments. By the way, how would you like some wolves in Pennsylvania?
Mr. KANJORSKI. Some
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Wolves.
Mr. KANJORSKI. Wolves?
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Or grizzly bears.
Mr. KANJORSKI. I think, Madam Chairman, that we have some wolves in Pennsylvania, but they have two legs.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. By the way, I really did appreciate your comments. I'm not sure how black helicopters fall into the logic of this whole thing, but I guess that remains to be seen.
Mr. KANJORSKI. I hope the Chairman will appreciate that's all facetious, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much, sir.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kanjorski follows:]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I do want to let you know that we do have another vote. This is a day when it seems we're being called on a lot of votes. We just have one up, and it's on agreeing to the legislative branch appropriations conference report. So, we will temporarily adjourn the Committee, and be back in just a little bit, probably about 15 minutes.
I appreciate your patience. We may have this pattern evolve for the rest of the afternoon, but we will continue. Thank you very much.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The meeting will come to order. I'll now introduce our next panel, which consists of Ms. Katie McGinty, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.
But before we continue, I would like to explain that I intend to place all witnesses under oath, and this is a formality of the Committee that is meant to assure open and honest discussions and should not affect the witness or the testimony given. I believe that all of the witnesses were informed of this before appearing here today, and they have each been provided a copy of the Committee Rules.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. McGinty, if you would stand, please.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Ms. McGinty, would you please proceed with your testimony?
STATEMENT OF KATHLEEN McGINTY, CHAIR, COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY, EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, WASHINGTON, DC
Ms. MCGINTY. Thank you, Congressman.
Madam Chairman, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the important American Heritage Rivers Initiative, and concomitantly, to express the administration's strong and unequivocal opposition to H.R. 1842, that kills the initiative, and in our mind deprives communities of the important support that they would otherwise be entitled to.
Madam Chairman, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative represents a historic opportunity for all of us to support our citizens' efforts to revitalize their communities. American Heritage Rivers focuses on the powerful link between healthy rivers and healthy communities. As prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act, the initiative is built on the fact that environmental, cultural, historical, and economic goals are inextricably linked, and that citizens' voices must be heard and must be the drivers in Federal action.
Why, rivers? Because, Madam Chair, as Mayor Richard Reardon said of Los Angeles River, ''Rivers often represent the heart of our city's spirit or our community's spirit. Rivers, with their beauty, their history, their lore, their central economic force, provide a centerpiece and organizing principle around which disparate elements of a community can and do come together to work toward the economic, cultural, and environmental revitalization of their place, their home.''
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Madam, I've had the privilege and opportunity to see this happen in every part of our country. My own home town is Philadelphia, and I will tell you 20 years ago the Delaware River, the waterfront there, was not a place that you particularly wanted to becrime and drugs, trash and decay.
But as our Nation's bicentennial approached, that river, the Delaware, captured our imaginations. It had a story to tell, we realized: Penn's landing, George Washington's crossing. It was part of what made our country, our city, great indeed. Philadelphians, then, were determined to take that waterfront back, push the pushers out, and restore the historic buildings. Revitalizing that waterfront then compelled action to take back Front Street and then Second Street and Third, until now, the entire downtown area is thriving and is very much alive.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: In 1969, Chattanooga was voted America's dirtiest city. Today, Chattanooga is hailed as a miracle city and one of America's most livable. And where did that whole renaissance start? Well, it started with one high school student who said, ''The Tennessee River is a special and valuable resource. Why don't we celebrate it by putting a first-of-its-kind fresh water aquarium on its banks?'' They did, and now that aquarium and, indeed, the entire city is world-renowned.
St. Paul, Minnesota: I visited there recently with Mayor Norm Coleman and some 20 other mayors from the upper Mississippi region. They gathered because of their tremendous enthusiasm about this program. Mayor Coleman has taken to calling renaming St. Paul, ''St. Paul on the Mississippi,'' and he will tell you in no uncertain terms that re-connecting the city with this wonderful river and this wonderful resource was recently the single most important factor in his effort to convince a major software manufacturer to locate back in the city, bringing jobs back to that city. The river, restored, makes that city an attractive, exciting, unique, and extremely compelling place to be.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Members of the Committee, this spirit is alive all over our country. We are blessed because it gives us the opportunity to grow and thrive together. We should be celebrating this spirit. You've heard from Members of Congress today who are spearheading efforts around the country, and you will hear from citizens from Texas, from Montana, from North Carolina, from Pennsylvania. We should celebrate their spirit, as the American Heritage Rivers program does. It would be a tragedy, indeed, if H.R. 1842 were enacted, and this Committee were to vote to crush the work of those citizens.
Madam Chairman, I would like to offer some declarative statements about this program, because it's helpful to clarify, I think, in simple terms what this is and what it is not. What it is, it is 100 percent voluntary. Communities don't have to participate, and after participating, at any time, a community can opt out. It is 100 percent locally driven. This is purely a bottoms-up process. Whether to participate and the plan for participation are completely under the control and in the hands of local citizens.
It's 100 percent non-regulatory. There are absolutely no new regulatory requirements or restrictions of any kind that will be imposed on an individual or State or local government through this initiative. It is 100 percent in compliance with, and, indeed, it is compelled by the National Environmental Policy Act which charges us with stopping these false choices between the economy and the environment and, instead, integrating all of those considerations in every action we undertake.
And, finally, it is 100 percent directed by the President's and Vice President's effort to reinvent government. This initiative is a directive to Federal agencies to serve citizens better than they have, to do more with less, to cut red tape and bureaucracy so citizens can access resources that they have paid for in an efficient and effective way. The Federal agencies are eager to serve citizens in this manner, and to us in the administration it is incomprehensible that we would want to tell them that they should not do so.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What this program is not: It is not an attempt by Federal agencies to take on new authorities or responsibilities; rather, it is an effort to execute current authorities, as agencies should, in a coherent and coordinated way. It is not an attempt to take anyone's private property. Private property rights will in no way be adversely affected in this effort. And to dispel any notion to the contrary, in conversations with various Members of Congress, the final program incorporates language on this matter penned by President Ronald Reagan.
Finally, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is not a program of the United Nations, and no foreign governments will be involved in this in any way.
Madam Chairman, this is a positive initiative. It is based on principles that this Committee has espoused. It is locally driven; it cuts bureaucracy and red tape; it brings economic and social concerns into the environmental picture. Purely and simply, it is government at the service of citizens.
It is, indeed, incomprehensible to us in the administration why we would want to crush this effort and with it the work of thousands of citizens across this country. That's what H.R. 1842 would do, and that why, respectfully, Madam Chairman, the administration does strongly oppose the legislation.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Ms. McGinty may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Ms. McGinty.
The Chair now recognizes my colleague, Mr. Reyes. I'm glad you could join us.
And Ms. McGinty, if you don't mind, I would like to call on the Congressman to give his statement now. Thank you.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE SILVESTRE REYES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. REYES. Thank you, Madam Chairman. It's been kind of an interesting day here on the Hill. I appreciate this opportunity.
Madam Chairman, and members of the Committee, I am here today to oppose H.R. 1842, which would terminate the American Heritage Rivers Initiative announced by President Clinton in his State of the Union speech earlier this year.
Madam Chairman, I'll get right to the point. Communities that don't want to participate should not. People who do not want to support this initiative should not. But Members of Congress who would prevent communities like El Paso in the 16th district, which I represent, from participating, should not, as well.
Maybe the rivers in your district are as clean as they need to be. Maybe everyone in your district has running water. Maybe the cities in your district have all the tourists they want, and maybe your economy is thriving and the unemployment is low. Maybe you don't need anyone to coordinate efforts to make the best use of existing Federal programs. That's nice for those that can afford that, but it doesn't help my district or the Texas border region, which spans more than 1,250 miles and is marked the entire length by the Rio Grande River.
According to a report issued this year by the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the Texas border region needs about $2.5 billionthat's $2.5 billionfor improvements to water and waste water systems. More than 47,000 people in this region have no water service at all. Four counties in this region need 80 percent of the necessary improvements. One of those is El Paso, the most populous county in the Texas border region and the county which I represent.
I am a very strong supporter of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative for the following reasons. No. 1, it is voluntary and locally driven. No. 2, it creates no new regulatory requirements, and No. 3, it uses existing Federal resources to assist communities like ours.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am satisfied that the concerns of the opponents of this initiative have been addressed, and that I am working very closely with my colleagues in Texas to submit a proposal to designate the Rio Grande River as one of the first 10 rivers to be designated through this initiative. Working through the Council of Governments, we have developed a statement of principles and a memorandum of agreement for this proposal for the communities who chooseagain, I say who chooseto participate.
We believe this designation will accomplish three basic things. One, it is using existing Federal resources, which will help each community to estimate its water resources and its needs for the next 50 years by providing technical assistance. No. 2, it is using existing Federal resources which will help each community in their efforts to seek Federal support for local projects that preserve the region's history, culture, and recreational resources. And, finally, No. 3, using existing Federal resources, it will help each community create and enhance its potential for increased tourism.
Finally, I want to point out that earlier this year the Texas legislature passed a major overhaul of our State's water law. Communities and regions need help as they work together to meet the water needs for our future. Under the law signed by Governor Bush, the Rio Grande River was cited as a special case, and State agencies were instructed to seek Federal assistance to help communities along the Rio Grande River. To quote Winston Churchill, I will leave you with this one thought: ''Give us the tools and we can finish the job.''
Madam Chairman, El Paso needs the tools that the American Heritage Rivers Initiative has to offer. I urge you and this Committee to allow us to have these tools, and, therefore, I strongly oppose H.R. 1842, and I appreciate this opportunity to testify before your committee. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Reyes follows:]
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Reyes. I know that your time has been fragmented, and I very much appreciate your being here and appreciate your testimony.
Mr. REYES. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I wanted to ask you, how many miles of the River does your district cover?
Mr. REYES. Our district?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes.
Mr. REYES. Our district probably encompasses aboutI'm going to guessabout 80 miles; I think it's 84, but it's about 80 miles. One of thejust to elaborate a little on your questionone of the important aspects of this initiative that I think it will provide for El Paso, and really, the El PasoJuarez region, is it will allow us to utilize existing resources to clean up our water and our watershed area along the Rio Grande River.
This is an opportunity that I think is unique, because since we share an international boundarya city of 700,000 on our side of the border with a city of 2 million peopleit will provide us an opportunity to work together to make the best possible usage of something that, historically, has been used to designate our differences. It brings together our region and our community to utilize it to the best of both of our abilities, both on the Mexican side and the United States side.
I have had an opportunity to discuss it with leaders on the Mexican side of the river, and they're excited about an opportunity that finally would give us an initiative where we could clean up the water, would promote tourism, and finally participate in the long-range process that impacts not just El PasoJuarez, but also all of the communities that the river serves until it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
So, 1,250 miles ultimately would be affected by just our initiative in the El PasoJuarez region.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. I just wonderedI was just handed by Congressman Bonilla his news release stating that he was in support of my bill, and he represents 800 miles of the river. And so, there are certainly a lot of different opinions coming out of Texas.
Mr. REYES. Welland you know, just to clear up that, because I have had a number of conversations with our colleague, Congressman Bonilla. The Laredo area supports the initiative. They're facing essentially the same situation the El PasoJuarez region faces, because they've got Laredo on one side of the international boundary and Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side. They're very excited about this opportunity to get this designation to be able to consolidate efforts, not just federally on our side, but internationally with Mexico for the benefit of that whole region.
So, there is, I guesseverybody knows this is not an issue that's unanimously agreed to or opposed. It depends on what the local perspective and what the local possibilities may be. So, with all due respect to my colleague, Congressman Bonilla, there are areas within his district that are in support of this initiative.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you. I did have just one quick question for the Congressman. If the Rio Grande was designated, or part of it was designated as an American Heritage river, how many congressional districts would touch on to the area that would be designated that way?
Mr. REYES. In Texas, there would be five. It would be Congressman Ortiz, Congressman Hinojosa, Congressman Rodriguez, Congressman Bonilla, and myself, in Texas.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Again, Mr. Reyes, thank you very much for your testimony and for being here with us.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. REYES. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The Chair will now recognize the members for questions with Mrs. McGinty, and the Chair first recognizes Mr. Cannon.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Madam Chair. I appreciate that.
The last time you were here, Ms. McGinty, we talked about politics and the political implications of this kind of program. You are aware, I believe, that my concern is that having a river navigator who is tied to the administrationthis, or whatever following administration we havewould have the ability to pressure or punish or reward certain areas of the country or certain congressional districts, depending upon whether you're looking at it as a Presidential election or a congressional election.
Since we had that discussion, have you had a chance to think about the potential implications of the use of this program? What we're doing here is we're creating a system, as you say, to cut red tape. That means focusing resources out of a broad program run by people who respond to Congress into a narrow process, which may well have significant political clout behind it. Have you considered the implications of that? And how would you expect to avoid having that happen?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, the point very definitely is to have those agencies working at the behest of local citizens, that citizens would be in the driver's seat. Since our earlier hearing here, we have also worked on the concept of the river navigator and have added in the final program a provision which states that the local community will put together the job description, if you will, for the river navigator. That person's role and responsibility will be, again, driven by the local community. So we have added that.
Mr. CANNON. Pardon me, but every community is going to want the maximum number of dollars, and, therefore, the description is going to be exactly what an administrationthis or a Republican or any other administrationwould want. And to the degree that a President has the ability to look over the country and strategically plan how to affect districts, if he's willing to ally the power of his office with the particular river navigator, the navigator is going to be doing what the city wants. That's why it would be an effective tool.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Well, I'd also, though, remind us that a community, any community, is not going to be a part of this program at all in order for that scenario to eventuate, unless they have elected to become a part of this program. So that, for example, if you have in mind that this is a political tool and places will be chosen around the country for political favor, that is, I think, pretty well precluded by the notion that it's not top down. Communities participate bottom up.
Mr. CANNON. But many communities will want to participate in a program where they can cut the red tape
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mr. CANNON. [continuing] and shake money out of current programs. So you're going to haveeven though, I think, that if you listen to the testimony and who's interested, we have a very different problem on the Rio Grande River, as Mr. Reyes just talked about, from what we have in most of the rest of the West. We have a very different problem in the Northeast, where mining has been terrifically destructive, where we have brown sites. So we have very different problems around the country.
Nevertheless, virtually every city is going to want to be able to shake some of that cash loose, and in the end I don't seeI don't think you're being responsive to the question. How is it that you're going to create a context for the river navigator to operate that doesn't allow him to also reward or punish people or regions politically.
And let's take, for example, over the next three years or so, before the next Presidential election, I suspect that you're going to go through two or three iterations of awarding these initiatives. That would mean 10 in 1998, 10 in 1999, and probably 10 in the year 2000.
Ms. MCGINTY. Unless this program kills us first.
Mr. CANNON. Pardon me? Well, that's what we hopethat's what some of us hope, of coursewith some reason, I think.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Mr. CANNON. But Mr. Reyes has just testified that five districts, five congressional districts, would be affected in Texas alone.
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mr. CANNON. My guess is you're going to average three districts. If you have 30 rivers or systems named as an American Heritage Rivers under the initiative, that would be in the ball park of 90 or 100 congressional seats. That is a terrific amount of narrow particular contact. Every President, as I said before, Republican or Democrat, has tried to boost the economy appropriately to enhance his likelihood of getting re-elected. That is such a tempting temptation, and I think that this administration has shown that it is willing to submit to those temptations in the past.
How on earth could we look at this program and say that we can protect that from happening?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, I just can, I guess, itemize the things we've tried to do to insulate this from politics. One, again, is that it is bottom-up; it's not top-down. That's one.
Two, what the river navigator him or herself will be able to do will be described and prescribed by the local community.
Three, we have also added the notion of a blue ribbon FACA panel will be brought together to help in the selection of these things. So it won't just be the administration making this
Mr. CANNON. Will that panel have oversight or just be part of the selection process?
Ms. MCGINTY. We will have out for comment what the role of the FACA should be. Certainly, it will have a major role in the selection.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANNON. OK. Could I ask unanimous consent for another couple of minutes, please?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes.
Mr. CANNON. So what you're saying is what you said before, but I don't think it responds to what I believe is the fact. Every city, every community, every river basin community is going to want money.
Ms. MCGINTY. Sure.
Mr. CANNON. And, therefore, they are not the people to control how the goodies are passed out by a river navigator who can easily have highest-level access in this administration or any other administration. Where is the safeguard that will keep the integrity of the programs that are going to be rated for these narrow communities which will want the money? They will want the rating to have because they get a disproportionate particular benefit.
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, let me respond in this way, because I think it relates to questions that have also been asked previously by this Committee, and that is, that to the extent you're envisioning a scenario where programs can be channeled toward a certain community as opposed to another one, there is nothing in this initiative that can touch the criteria that are written in law and regulation for every program that's authorized and appropriated by this Committee or others in the Congress.
Mr. CANNON. Pardon me, Ms. McGinty, because my time is limited, but what you're doing, what you have said, your stated objective is to cut red tape?
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mr. CANNON. Now the red tape is the process that protects the integrity of how we dish out money in America. What you're suggesting is that we're going to cut the red tape on the one hand, but it won't be cut in such a way as to give a disproportionate benefit that has a political ring to it, and I don't understand. Those are inconsistent positions. In other words, you want to do with this bill what seems to me to open the Pandora's box of political favoritisma wharf goes here, not there; this is a Democrat or that's a Republican; he gets the benefit; the district doesn't. It seems to me that you're creating my case for me by the way you're answering the question.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Well, I mean, I would assume that there is plenty of red tape that can be cut before we get to the essentials of a program. Indeed, I think this Congress has stated many times that there is at least a little bit of inefficiency out there that maybe we could work on eliminating, and we're trying to do that.
Mr. CANNON. And, frankly, the inefficiency is significant, but it doesn't go to what I think may create a much greater inefficiency by cutting out the safeguards. And what I haven't heard yetand of course we've talked about this before, but I have not yet heardanything, any part of the program, any context that will protect this program from the whims or desires of a powerful President in an election year, and that concerns me greatly. There are many other concerns that I have; we don't have time to go into those.
But how could I support a program that is tailormade to slit the purse and drop money where it will have the most political impact? I think that's improper, and that's why I oppose your program and support this bill.
Ms. MCGINTY. The last thing I'd just say is the oversight role of this Committee, and every other committee on Capitol Hill, will certainly be there and retained, in order to oversee how the various programs are being
Mr. CANNON. That oversight would be dramatically different if the Congress was controlled by the same party as the administration. This Democratic administration or a Republican administrationthe intensity of the desire to oversee is not there, and this is not a little thing; this is a huge political impact.
And I apologize, Madam Chairman, for going overtime here. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much.
The Chair recognizes Mr. Radanovich.
Mr. RADANOVICH. Thank you, Madam Chair.
And welcome, Ms. McGinty, to the panel. I am also vice chairman of the Western Caucus, and would like to extend an invitation to you to visit with our Western Caucus at some time in the future
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Thank you.
Mr. RADANOVICH. [continuing] if you'd like.
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes. Thank you.
Mr. RADANOVICH. Previously to coming to Washington, I was a Mariposa County supervisor in California, a small county of about 15,000 people. Mariposa has about 1,500 people in it. And through my work on the planning commission and also the county board of supervisors, we were able to bring into the county general plan a small creek called Mariposa Creek, which drains into the San Joaquin River, which eventually drains into San Francisco Bay, and did it without Federal participation. I have to tell you that I object strongly to this initiative.
And I wanted to bring that up along with the other examples that you had brought up that were originated without Federal participation. And I'm afraid that something like this initiative is a bit like what happened in the crime bill a few years ago with midnight basketball, that was brought up in one community in an urban area; it was a great idea for a school district somewhere to open up the gyms to people all night. It ended up being an idea that somebody got a hold of, made a Federal program out of it, and we realized that a one-size-fits-all-type approach to some of this stuff was just foolish.
And I have to admit that I feel the same way about this initiative. I would rather, if the administration is concerned about the rivers in this country, that they would realize that you actually get better environmental protection by encouraging private property incentives and local control, and not through Federal programs.
And, you know, most of the people that testified in favor of the Heritage Riversin fact, I've got the list of those States, the people that testified for it, and how much Federal ownership is involved in their States. I come from California; 44 million acres are owned by the Federal Government, which isCalifornia is a big State, but that totals 48 percent of our land mass. And we had a gentleman from Pennsylvania testifying about the fact that maybe some people in the West are fearful of black helicopters and all these other things, but Pennsylvania is less than 5 percent owned by the Federal Government; New York is .5 percent; Virginia is a little bit more, somewhere between 5 and 20 percent. Connecticutmy friend Nancy Johnson was testifying for itless than 1 percent of Connecticut is in Federal ownership. Texasmy good friend from Texas comes from a State where about 5 percent or less is owned by the Federal Government.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And my advice to any of them is that, if you want to take care of an issue, the last person you want involved in it is the Federal Government, and it's almost a smack in the face to your citizens to not understand why you can't come up with these solutions on your own, as evidenced by your examples that you pointed out prior to going into the development of the Heritage Rivers.
So what I would like to see, in my view, the administration do is encouragefor example, in California there was an air quality issue for the San Joaquin Basin. As you know, it's ringed by the coast range and the Sierra Nevadas. In order to address the problem, the counties got together and formed a joint powers agreement to deal with the problem. So this was intrastate, which may be a little bit different than the gentleman from the Rio Grande, who has an international border to deal with, but it was an issue where the counties took care of their own problems through a joint powers agreement. I would venture to guess that would be probably the same solution for Nancy Johnson in Connecticut, and most of the other people that are in there.
And rather than developing a new program like this, and having a river navigator and some of these things, you're more better off, I think, encouraging communities to begin to realize what are the assets in their own communitiesthese rivers and these things.
I come from a State, again, that's 48 percent federally owned. The tiny river that Ior the tiny creek that I had a hand in helping out is connected by about 3 hours' drive to the San Francisco Bay. People that are in and around the San Francisco Bay are not necessarily conducive, nor are they very well-informed as to what's best for the riparian nature in my own area. Those rivers in between, too, also drain through the San Joaquin Valley, which is some of the richest farm ground in the United States, which, by current Federal policy, is going to lead to the urbanization of that valley and the degradation of that environment, simply because we have got a community that is not close to the resource, and which I feel is the future of environmentalism, and that's why its nexus should be around local control and private property rights, because those people that are so closely attached to the environment know how to take care of the environment better than those that are far away.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Conversely, those people that are farther away from the environment and live in urban areas are less subject to flighty ideas of nature and environmental protection, promoted by people that are really out of touch with good environmental protection. And so to develop another Federal program, rather than encouraging what's going on in the first place, I think is counterproductive. And that's why I object toactually in support of Ms. Chenoweth's bill, but also object strongly toI think it's a novel approach on the part of the administration to deal with a serious issue. And I think if you want to be really serious, you need to begin to deal with ways to encourage people to do what they're doing already.
Ms. MCGINTY. Madam Chair, if I might respond? I see the light's on.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes.
Ms. MCGINTY. Thank you.
There's much in what you said, which is what we are at least endeavoring to do here, and I would very much welcome the opportunity to visit with you to discuss it in more detail, but let me just hit on a couple of the points that I think you so well-articulated.
The effort here is to have local people connected with their environment, their economic resources, identify what they consider to be their challenging, and to plan the vision for their own future. But the only point is that, in response to that, shouldn't those communities have access to the resources that they are paying for, whether it is, as you suggest: Can they get information on what are their economic assets? Are there data bases that can help them to analyze that? What about the qualities of their river and the watershed area?
The fact is that there are technical resources, financial resources, that are deposited in these various Federal agencies, but it is hard for local communities, struggling with their own issues and problems, to be able to go to the myriad of agencies and demand those resources.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RADANOVICH. If I can respond just briefly and have a little more time, Madam ChairI wouldn'tlet me comment on that, and that is to say that it is not the issue of access to information; it is the inspiring of local citizens to see that happen with their own local communities. You can't develop a Federal program that accomplishes that.
Ms. MCGINTY. Agreed, but this program will not take that to a community. Again, it's a community inspired to come together that comes to us and submits an application. This is locally driven. And, in fact, since the President announced this initiative, many communities have become inspired to pull together themselves and to say, hey, we're proud of our place; we can compete for this. And they are coming bottoms-up to us; we're not going top-down to them. It is their initiative.
Mr. RADANOVICH. Well, all I can say is that I don't want the people of the Bay Area coming to my small community in Mariposa telling me how to run a river.
Ms. MCGINTY. And under this program, they will not be able to. They will not be able to submit an application under this program.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. Thank you very much.
The Chair now recognizes Mr. Farr.
Mr. FARR. Thank you very much. I'm very interested in this issue, and I think I'm very surprised at what I'm hearing in this hearing today, statements that people have made, including some of my colleagues from California. I, like you, served in county government and went on to serve in the legislature and chaired the local government committee, which had jurisdiction over 6,000 governments in California, and formed the Tourism Caucus in the California legislature. And when I've been back here, I've formed the National Scenic Byways and All American Roads Caucus, which is made up of Republicans and Democrats from around the country.
And I just notice, looking down the list, that all the people that oppose this legislation, none of them have a Scenic Byway or All American Road in their district. So I guess you havelike Winston Churchill said: the greatest thing to fear is fear itselfby people who haven't realized what benefits can be derived.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And let me understand this. This is a bottoms-up process. It doesn't exist without people coming and petitioning and wanting a Heritage River, isn't that correct?
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes, it is correct.
Mr. FARR. And if you come to the government right now and try to petition for anything, you have all different departments you have to go to, and what you're trying to do is consolidate in one stop? I mean, it's interesting that the same people who support fast track oppose this kind of position of trying to have fast track in the government bureaucracy, so that you can get a decision.
So what you're trying to do is two-part. One is initiate from the bottoms-up an application for a Heritage River, and if that application is approved, then consolidate the decisionmaking process so that they can get answers to questions quickly without having to say that you've got to go to 13 different doors and different departments to get a response; is that correct? That's all it really does?
Ms. MCGINTY. That's pretty much it, yes, sir.
Mr. FARR. Well, then, where is all this fear? I mean, everybody I know is trying to get more help to try to promote our outdoors. I mean, the last time I checked, tourism in America, I never found a tourist that went out to look at oil wells and real estate signs. Mega-Trend says that the biggest economy in this country in the outdoors is watchable wildlife, and that more people are looking at wildlife than all the national professional sports in this country. I mean, it's a big, big economy.
Mr. Radanovich, who opposes this Federal idea, comes out and lobbies for Federal water supports for his crops, lobbies for Federal money to promote wine sales overseas, lobbies for cotton subsidies, lobbies for help for the famous Federal Yosemite National Park in his district, lobbies for moneys for the road to get to Yosemite, and has I think stated very well that he was able on a county board of supervisors to protect the riparian corridor of a creek. And, therefore, you don't need the Federal Government to protect creeks
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. I'd remind the gentleman from California that the issue is American Heritage Rivers
Mr. FARR. And I'm getting to that. This is exactlyyou've made my point, that this is not called the American Heritage Creek; it's called the American Heritage River because the river runs through it. It runs through a lot of stuff, sometimes even more than one State. So you need a Federal role in order to protect the river.
And I guess what I'm worried about is that the legislation suggests that we've got to go out and fear something that the community has to start in the first place. I thought we were the ones that supported local government and local control. Why are we trying to tell our communities that they can't come to Washington and ask for help with trying to do something that's a lineal in effect.
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes, and I do want to just underscore that this is completely at the initiative of communities. I have to echo what Congressman Scott said before me, which is if a community does not want to participate, they simply should not apply. There is enough interest in this program that there will be plenty of communities who do need the resources, as Congressman Reyes has said, to be able to revitalize their economy and bring life back into their communities.
Mr. FARR. Well, I am verywe are very involved in the National Scenic Byway and All American Roads, and it's gotten so much popularity because of the fact that if you protect the right, the scenic viewshed of these highways, and you keep them rural and you keep them in their natural state, people can see the great America experience, and then Congress Members from those districts lobby like mad in ISTEA to protect it, in a caucus we've formed to do it. Because why? It's jobs; it's not just pretty scenery. It's more employment; it's more visitation; it's more opportunity. And I would just hope that people who think that there's some kind ofthat this is a siege of local control, this is a threat of local control, are just upside-down in that attitude. You know, they're the same people that will come hereI see there's a lot of city and county folks that come here; they come here and lobby for all kinds of Federal help, for community block grants, for highway money, for housing money, for all kinds of stuff, and the Farm Bureau's included. I sit on the Agriculture Committee; I watch it all. And then they turn around and think that this is going to be some kind of threat.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I can guarantee you, I represent the central coast of California. We get no Federal subsidies in agriculture, and we do a better job of agriculture than anybody. We also have the California coast of Big Sur and Monterey and Carmel, and these towns are towns that would support this in a quick minute, because it's going to be more jobs and more opportunity and better for the local economy. I think the President's doing a great job, and I'm really proud of the work you're doing for the President.
Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I want to thank the gentleman from California. I do want to remind the gentleman from California, with regard to the fast track comment, the President is in favor of fast track and the President is in favor of the American Heritage Rivers, and I won't yield
Mr. FARR. And there is fast track in this bill.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Excuse me. And, also, I wanted to let you know that Congress did crate a Pennsylvania oil field heritage area, so apparently the politicians believe that people still go look at oil fields.
Mr. RADANOVICH. Well, if the Chair would yield, tooif you don't mind, the only statement that I want to make is it's not an issue of fear; it's an issue of howwhat is the best way to take care our environment? And a program coming from Washington, in my view, does not encourage what I think the future of environmentalism is, and that is local control and private property incentive.
Mr. FARR. And that's why we created national flood plain insurance, because local control could not deal with flooding rivers.
Mr. RADANOVICH. This is with regard to rivers, and I'd let my statement stand.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much. These are the times that try men's souls with regards to votes on procedure about every 15 minutes, and I know your souls are being tried; the soles of my feet are being tried. I wore the wrong shoes today.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But, anyway, I am very sorry; we are called for another vote. This vote is on a motion to adjourn, and as far as I know, unlike last time, it will only be one vote, and as such, we'll probably be back in 15 minutes, and we will then resume with questions from Mr. Schaefer. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The Committee will resume with questioning from Mr. Bob Schaefer from Colorado.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Ms. McGinty, welcome to the Committee.
Ms. MCGINTY. Thank you.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I wanted to just say I was encouraged actually by the comment you made, I believe it was, to Mr. Cannon about theor maybe it was Mr. Radanovich; I don't recall at the momentabout accountability with respect to the Congress
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mr. SCHAFFER. [continuing] and our involvement in the Heritage Rivers Initiative, and so on; that our role as overseers or the oversight capacity this Committee has does, in fact, give us a certain amount of leverage. And so I would like you to expound on that a little bit more, if you would, about how you envision that taking place at some other point in time, if maybe a year from now we find some irregularities to which we might object, and how you would envision our interaction taking place in a way that would result in meaningful progress.
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes. Well, just as an example, there may be a community that, as part of their plan, for example, would like help in accessing brown fields grants. That would be one part of their plan. They've got an abandoned industrial site on a riverfront; they would like grant money to help revitalize that. They go to the river navigator and they say, ''This is something we're interested in. How can you help us to pursue that objective?'' And the river navigator's job would be to facilitate their work with the Environmental Protection Agency to secure a brown fields grant.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now this Committee or the appropriate committee on Capitol Hill that has oversight on EPA's budget, and the brown fields program in particular, would retain that oversight if the Committee felt that that particular community was not the proper recipient of a browns field grant. And that all is intact.
Mr. SCHAFFER. We're actually moving in a little bit different direction. I mean specifically with respect to the Council on Environmental Quality
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mr. SCHAFFER. [continuing] and the implementation of this Act. Because what this question and this bill is all about is just the cash, frankly, at this point and whether the Congress has any recognizable role, at least on the administration's viewpoint, in the dollars associated with implementing the plan.
Let me just direct my comments that way. How much is the program going to cost?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, there are no new or additional funds that are involved in this program at all because the program is only about coordinating programs that are otherwise authorized and appropriated by Congress.
Mr. SCHAFFER. We're talking about 10 new, potentially 10 employees, new employees a year? I don't know what all other additional costs that are associated with just the organization, and so on, but there must be some sense of what the expenditures involving this initiative amount to. Can you tell us what that might be?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, the staff that have been involved in this initiative to date, and the ones that will continue to be involved, are already Federal employees charged with programs and responsibilities that bear on river revitalization. That's what they do. They are now doing it in a coordinated fashion. That's the difference.
Mr. SCHAFFER. So the program is free to the American taxpayers; is that what I'm hearing?
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. No, it is not free, because there are endless numbers of programs authorized and appropriated by the Congress that exist and that will be coordinated through this initiative.
Mr. SCHAFFER. For 10 river coordinators or 10 navigators, as they are called, which will bethey may be employed in some other agency or department presently. When you bring these resources through the coordination of the Heritage River Initiative, do you have any estimate on what the cost of the initiative would be, of that consolidation would be? How much money are we
Ms. MCGINTY. No, I understand. We do not expect there would be any additive cost, because the persons involved in this initiative are already Federal employees charged with these responsibilities. We will be asking those employees to do more, but that's part of the reinventing government initiative; it's do more with less, and we've had success in asking employees to do more with less.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Mrs. Johnson from Connecticut, when she spoke earlier, mentioned that one of the projects in Hartford, Connecticut was held up for a considerable amount of time because it took 18 months to get Federal permit.
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mr. SCHAFFER. When it comes to asking Federal employees to do more, wouldn't one example be speeding up the time it takes to get a permit from the Federal Government were they are currently and without the need for a new program?
Ms. MCGINTY. Absolutely, and that's why this isn't a new program; it is expediting, making more efficient, the programs that are out there and existing.
Mr. SCHAFFER. If in a year from now this Committee may have questions about the budgeting, the funding, associated with the initiative, how would you propose that the Congress deal with the costs associated with the initiative?
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Well, I am certainly, and will be, responsive to the Committee at any time. And in addition, again, each of the agencies that will be participating are certainly obliged to be, and will be, responsive to members of the Committee and to the Congress in general.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I appreciate the commitment for responsiveness. Back on June 4, this Committee sent a letter to you asking for a comprehensive review of all budgetary reprogramming required in fiscal year 1998 be provided to the Committee. As of today, we have not received any kind of response. Are you aware of any response that you have given us with respect to that letter?
Ms. MCGINTY. The response given at the hearingand I'll reiterate it here todayis that there will be no need for reprogramming. We have not reprogrammed in 1997. We will not request any reprogramming in 1998, but we will submit that to you formally in writing as well.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Have you submitted anything to us so far?
Ms. MCGINTY. Not in writing, no.
Mr. SCHAFFER. On July 3, this Committee requested to provide detailed accounting of all travel costs, per diem, and meeting costs for the Federal agency personnel involved in the American RiverHeritage River stakeholders' meetings that have already been held throughout the United States during April and May. We have not received any response to that inquiry. Are you aware of any response that you might have made that we may not have received?
Ms. MCGINTY. I'm sorry, I'm not aware of the inquiry, but I certainly will look into it.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Do you think it's possible that there were travel costs, per diem, and other meeting costs associated with those stakeholder meetings?
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. I would assume so, yes. I mean, we were immediately responsive to any invitation from any person in any part of the country to come and hear concerns and/or to provide further information for those who want to participate in the program.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Back on July 31 of this year, this Committee requested that you provide detailed answers to questions for the record on the Committee with respect to the American Heritage Rivers Program, and that, the meeting that we had on July 15, and those questions were directed at the Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture. Your agency was requested to coordinate the responses to those questions. As of today, we have not received any response from the Council on Environmental Quality. Do you know if that's
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes, that's what I was originally referring to. We responded orally. We will respond in writing very soon.
Mr. SCHAFFER. What has occurred in the interim between those previous meetings and today, unfortunately, is that the administration has gone ahead with an Executive Order and that rules have been suggested in The Federal Registerall outside of the acknowledgment of these three written inquiries on behalf of a congressional committee. So I really go back to my original question on accountability and oversight. When you reassure this Committee that there will be an opportunity for exchange and that this kind of exchange is the way that we exercise accountability on behalf of the American taxpayers, I'd just merely point out that it isthat my confidence that that will occur is eroded somewhat because of the several efforts that this Committee has made just to get simple and basic information that we have not received; the cooperation and coordination has not occurred on a Committee basis, and the administration has gone forward anyway with an Executive Order and with rules in the Federal record, and has essentially ignored the House of Representatives and the Resources Committee.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Well, I would say, sir, with all due respect, we, ourselves, visited on this issue, and you raised several issuesall of which were addressed in coordination with your office immediately by my office, and they are reflected in the final program. Whether it was your questions concerning water rights or your questions concerning local land use decisionsall of those we immediately responded to. The program details that are in the final program here are very responsive to issues that were raised by Members of Congress.
In addition to what I had referred to before, Congressman Skeen had raised a question about property rights, and in coordination with him, the program now has language penned by President Reagan that he agreed to and that is now here. So when it comes to the substantive programmatic details, we have been very responsive, and the program reflects the very valuable input of this Committee and other committees.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, I'm more than willing to acknowledge and commend you for the communications you've had with individual members of the Committee. I don't want to detract from that because I believe that to be also important. But with respect to accountability and oversight, you specifically mentioned this Committee, and this is the Committee that deals with resource-related topics. My status as a Member of Congress is notis nowhere near the status of a sitting committee with a chairman and members that are appointed and formally appointed, and so on. That is the context with which I think you raised your assurances of accountability and the questions that I asked regarding the specific inquiries, written inquiries, that were made through this Committee that were ignored.
So why is it, do you believe, the American public should place any confidence in this oversight and accountability relationship that the Congress has with the administration, when the three documented examples of requests for information have gone unanswered, and in the meantime the administration moves far ahead anyway with Executive Orders and rulemaking within the Federal Register?
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Well, I would say, sir, that today's proceedings are strong evidence of the vigorous oversight role and the tenacity of this Committee to be very much involved in this program, and to make sure that oversight is being conducted.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Lacking other members, Madam Chairman, may I ask unanimous consent for a little more time?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Absolutely.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Let me ask about the 90-day comment period. The comment period ran from May 19 to August 20, as I recall. There was a request fromI don't know; it seems 20from 55 Members of Congress to extend that comment period further. That request was rejected, and I'd like to ask you why that request was not honored.
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes, there were equal requests not to extend the comment period, both from the House and the Senate, many Members saying that their communities were anxiously awaiting this program, wanting to participate and asking us, in light of the fact that we had had more outreach and communication and public comment on this initiative than almost any initiative that one can think of, that it was time to move on and not to delay and frustrate communities who were waiting to participate.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, notwithstanding the opinions or the differences of opinions by Members of Congress, the decision was made, nonetheless, to not extend
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes, with this
Mr. SCHAFFER. [continuing] the comment period, and that's the decision that I'd like you to defend.
Ms. MCGINTY. And that's what I am trying to do. There were two requests to extend the comment period. We responded positively to the first request, and we did extend the comment period for more than 60 days. When the second request came, at that point after we had had more than 90 days of public comment, when the second request came, there were equal requests saying, ''Please don't frustrate the citizens in my community any longer. They have been waiting since the President's State-of-the-Union Address in January of the year. It's time for the delay to stop and let's move on.''
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And we thought that the proper balance was, having respected those who wanted delay in the first instance, that respect was due to those who were vigorously opposed to further delay in the second instance, and that was a fair way to move forward.
Mr. SCHAFFER. So in the second instance, the requests for additional extension of theor extension of the comment period were, in your opinion, just not as persuasive as those to close the comment period at the 90 days? Is that accurate?
Ms. MCGINTY. Especially given the fact that we had 90 days of comments; we had visits with more than 100 Members of Congress; we traveled to every region in this country where there were public hearings. I personally had traveled to every place I was invited to come and hear from communities who are interested in this. The outreach on this is extensive, which is why I answered your earlier question about whether or not there were expenditures in travel on this program: There certainly have been, because we have been enormously responsive to those who have wanted to comment and to be heard on the program.
Mr. SCHAFFER. During the comment period, the report that you published suggested there were approximately 1,700 comments received, and throughout the course of the appendix of that as wellI think it's appendix 2it gives a summary of what some of those comments were, and kind of categorizes them. But nowhere in this report does it suggest how many were for, how many were against, how many comments were negative or positive, and so on. Is there any kind of recording or tally of those for or those against, of the 1,700 comments that you received during that 90-day period?
Ms. MCGINTY. I do believe we have that analysis, and I can provide it. I don't have itthe numbersoff the top of my head.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, can you tell us generally? Was it evenly split, overwhelmingly in favor, or overwhelmingly opposed?
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. I can't give an estimation of it. There were communities who were strongly in support of it; there were individuals who were vigorously opposed, and I think we heard from some of that representation today, as well as those who were in favor.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I just find it somewhat remarkable that you don't even have a sense of whether the respondents were somewhat favorable, mixed, opposed. Even if it seems to be a close call, that would seem certainly an indicator for the need for caution.
Ms. MCGINTY. No, there's definitely difference of opinion with regard to this initiative, and I think this hearing has been very instructive in elucidating where there is difference of opinion. So I would notlet me be clear. The comments were not 100 percent positive. The only thing I am hesitating to do here is to put an exact number on how many were positive and how many were negative. There is definitely difference of opinion with regard to this initiative.
Mr. SCHAFFER. The State constitution in my State suggests thatthis speaks more to the substance of the programthe State constitution in my State, and I know many western States as well, is very clear that the allocation of water rights and the establishment of water rights and appropriations in my Statethey're established in the Constitution. They're within the domain of States. My take on the whole concept of local control here is perhaps different than others might be. When I read the 10th Amendment, suggesting that powers not specifically enumerated to the Federal Government in the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the people, city government isn't mentioned in there for some reason, and neither is the counties, and so on.
Now, as it turns out, in my State there is great deference to counties and local governments, but I guess the question is, the emphasis here seems to skip over the State level of government on the establishment of a Rivers Initiative in the designation, and relies upon communities and municipalities, neighborhoods, or whatever the case may be.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In a semi-arid State like Colorado, there is wide disagreement, as you might imagine, even between communities within a State. Communities fight over water routinely under our State provisions. Now we manage to negotiate those and to arbitrate those very well as a State with several years of history as a State in developing those water laws.
I guess my concern is the neglect of a statewide approach on the river process. You have given the veto authority, or suggested that it exists, for Members of Congress. What about a United States Senator
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes
Mr. SCHAFFER. [continuing] on a statewide basis or a Governor or a State legislator votinglegislature voting by resolution?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, let me say several things. First of all, in terms of the veto, a Senator will have the right to exercise that veto as well as the Member of Congress in whose district this river, or stretch of river, might run. In addition, The Federal Register notice makes clear the authorities of the State and also the necessity of having State support. It itemizes, for example, letters of endorsement from not just local governments, but State and tribal government. It also makes clear, as it says here, of course, any projects identified in the nomination packet must undergo applicable State review processes.
After our conversations, it also makes clear that the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, for example, may not conflict with matters of State or local government jurisdiction, and then itemizes some of those things that you were helpful in elucidating. So there is a very strong emphasis on that throughout the program.
Mr. SCHAFFER. And I appreciate those. That gesture, I assure you, is appreciated; that those comments were considered as a result of the individual meeting that you and I had.
The thing about rules established in the Federal Register is that they're pretty easy to change, and how about opting-out
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mr. SCHAFFER. [continuing] after a program is established? Is it your intention that a Member of Congress can have a Heritage River delisted or removed from the program after the program is established, and has that been provided for? And any individual, for that matter, who might find their land or their farm or their water rights associated with the program, how do they go about opting-out and protecting themselves?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, the Member of Congress certainly, as I had previously articulated, is afforded in this program a veto right in terms of the existence or the participation in this program. In addition to that, in light of the comments
Mr. SCHAFFER. That's after the existence of the program?
Ms. MCGINTY. It's a veto authority that the Member of Congress would retain throughout the existence of the program. In addition to that, we have provided that at the time of the nomination or selection of a particular river that the community also would dictate to us their procedures for opting out. Any community that becomes part of this program can opt out at any time, and moreover, the procedures through which that will be accomplished we will not dictate, but the community themselves will decide how that process would be effectuated.
Mr. SCHAFFER. The community as a wholeso that does not include an individual farmer or rancher or water rights-holder; is that correct?
Ms. MCGINTY. Unless a particular community said, well, the way we're going to opt out of this is that if any particular member of the community says they no longer want their community to participate, then we want to opt out; under those circumstances, we would say that's fine.
Mr. SCHAFFER. You know, it happens every day in the West, and I suppose throughout the rest of the country, too, that a municipality or a county, unfortunately, intrudes upon the rights of an individual. Right now I think most local elected officials are very responsible. I mean, just be clear about that. But on occasion, there is a zoning issue or some water rights-related matter, where a municipality and an individual rights-holder come in conflict.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What this seems to do here, as you described, is in fact gives a local government entity a certain amount of authority that they presently do not have over another rights-holder, whether it be property rights or water rights. Again, going back to how the Tenth Amendment reads and has been stated, that these rights belong to the States or to the people, and I'm concerned that the people part of that seem to have no recourse if they decide they want to opt out of a program that they do not wish to be a part of, which you've described as non-regulatory.
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, again, they do have every right to opt out, and they will prescribe the procedures through which they'll opt out. We will not tell them how they can or can't opt out. It will be purely up to
Mr. SCHAFFER. Let me just ask the other way, just to be sure: Is it possible, under the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, that a farmer or a rancher or a water rights-holder might find themselves within the boundaries of a Heritage River designation and be unable to opt out of the designation?
Ms. MCGINTY. If they are able toif the community says, here are the procedures through which we want to opt out of this program, and they're procedures A through Z; procedure M involves an individual landowner comes and petitions and says, ''We don't want to be part of this anymore.'' That will govern the process.
Mr. SCHAFFER. So if a community comes up with a recommendation that excludes the ability of a property rights-holder to remove himself from the process, you will empower that community through the initiative, through this Executive Order; is that correct?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, again, we have to keep in mind what this initiative does. If there is any part of it that an individual landowner is not supportive of, to go back to this: Any protect needs to undergo applicable State and local review processing. So if that owner right now has a right under State or local law to say no to particular project, that right is still there, and there's nothing in this initiative that changes the rights of those local landowners in any way.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHAFFER. I'm really hoping my questioning helps you understand the confusion you stated when you started outthat you don't understand why anybody would oppose this, because it seems so free and open and voluntary, and so on. What we are nailing down here in this one example a situation where a landowner or a water rights-holder might find themselves within the boundary of a Heritage River Initiative and be bound by rules that presently do not exist, by new authority that has been created by this Executive Order that empowers a local community in a way that they are not empowered presently.
Now even though they follow local meetings and go through the routine process of public hearings, and so on, the fact remains that the communities today that we're speaking about do not have the authority to establish a Heritage Rivers designation in a way that compels the FederalI'll finishin a way that compels the Federal Government like we are here. That is the new authority that this represents and the real threat that landowners, ranchers, farmers, water rights-holders are very concerned about, and downstream or people with senior water rights in headwater States like mine.
Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Ms. MCGINTY. But there are no new rules that come with this program or new authorities. There's no new regulation or regulatory program of any kind that an individual is not subject today that they would be subject to tomorrow, if their particularthe place where they lived was designated an American Heritage River. There is nothing from a regulatory or a legal point of view that will be different tomorrow than it is today for that individual.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Schaefer, I thank you for your questioning, and I do want to let you know that, should you wish to have another period of questioning, we will go for another round.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I appreciate your tolerance on that, Madam Chairman.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Ms. McGinty, when you were before the Committee before, you mentioned thatand, again, you reiterated the fact that anyone who wanted to opt out could. And along that line, I wanted to present to you a letter from our entire Idaho delegation, Senators and Congressmen, saying our whole State wants to opt out, and two letters from the Idaho Farm Bureau, and then a letter from the Awahee County commissioners. That's a county down in the southwest corner of Idaho, and so we would like to present those to you at this time. And we would like a written response to all of the letters, and most especially the delegation letter.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. What is your oral response to the delegation letter?
Ms. MCGINTY. Thank you very much.
Ms. MCGINTY. I will respond immediately, but I assume that this is a statement that communities in Idaho will not be participating in this program, and you've exercised a veto, and I think that's just fine. This program isn't for every community, and if the communities of Idaho don't want to be part of it, that's their choice.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So you will accept no nominations from Idaho; right?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, I guess I would return the question. I would assume that this represents a consultation with the people of Idaho, and you don't expect a nomination to come from the people of Idaho.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. That's not what your testimony indicated before. You did indicate, if a Congressman or anyone
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Absolutely. You will have the absolute right to veto
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Veto power.
Ms. MCGINTY. [continuing] any nomination that should come from people within your district to nominate a river in your district. And on top of that, Senators from the State would have the veto authority to reject the nomination of citizens from their entire State, yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. What our delegation has expressed by making this move is that no petition should even be entertained from Idaho.
Ms. MCGINTY. That's fine, and that's the authority that you certainly have to nominateI mean to veto any nomination that otherwise might be forthcoming.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And will you respect that?
Ms. MCGINTY. I will respect it. I will not make the choices of which communities are designated, but there's no question that you have the absolute authority to ensure that no community in your district, and the Senators from the State have the absolute authority to make sure that no community in the entire State, is a participant in this program. And that is fine and that will be respected.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I do want to reiterate the fact that at the previous hearings you saidand it's on the recordthat congressional opposition would stop the initiative in a congressional district, and in this case we've got all the Senators
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. [continuing] and Congressmen lined up
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. [continuing] and it will stop the process in Idaho?
Ms. MCGINTY. Absolutely. Well, it willit will result in a veto on any nomination that would be submitted. Now I have no way of knowing if there is a nomination forthcoming from Idaho, but it would be a veto, yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Well, let me ask you again: Will any initiative petitions be entertained by you from Idaho?
Ms. MCGINTY. I consider that there is now an absolute veto on any participation in this program by anyone in Idaho.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. OK. Thank you.
Ms. McGinty, you are an attorney, aren't you?
Ms. MCGINTY. I went to law school, Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And did you take the bar?
Ms. MCGINTY. I never took the bar exam, no. I'm not licensed to practice in any State of the Union.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You citedlet me back up and say that one of the biggest questions that I have is the authority under which this initiative has been put forth. And while I understand that agencies of the Executive have broad discretionary powers, especially with generally 2.5 percent of their budget for discretionary expenditure, that has normally been based on existing authorized programs.
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now this program has not been authorized by the Congress. It has not beenmonies have not been appropriated for it, and you did cite your authority as coming from NEPA. Now you're not an officer of the court, I understand, because you haven't passed the bar, but you are an attorney.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. I have not taken the bar exam.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Oh, excuse mehave not taken the bar. There's a big difference there.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. But you did cite NEPA. Could you give me the cite exactly in NEPA that authorizes this?
Ms. MCGINTY. Certainly. I am charged and sworn to execute the National Environmental Policy Act. The National Environmental Policy Act requires every Federal agency in every major undertaking that theyin every major action that they undertake that has significant impact on the environment to coordinate environmental, economic, and social considerations into that decisionmaking first, and, second, to afford the citizens of the country, and including in particular local citizens, to participate in that decisionmaking. That's what is at the heart of what we are trying to do.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Could you cite within
Ms. MCGINTY. Section 101 of the National Environmental Policy Act.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Section 101 states the purposes of NEPA.
Ms. MCGINTY. It's section 101(b)(4)precisely requires the Federal agencies to do what I've just articulated.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And that is coordinate?
Ms. MCGINTY. It is to integrate environmental, economic, and social considerations into every major Federal action and to afford the public an opportunity to participate in decisionmaking.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now the purpose of NEPA, beginning as affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a decision beginning with National Helium v. Morton, and then never overturned, was that the purpose of NEPA was to have the Federal Government produce not only studies, but a decision on government actions on man and his environment, and it took NEPA absolutely no further than the study process. And so, therefore, I still actively question that there has ever been authority to grant certain rivers under a certain designation and expend funds and appoint people. We may never agree on that, Ms. McGinty, but I do feel very strongly that the agencies of the Federal Government need to stay in absolute line with the authority given them by Congress.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Anti-Deficiency Act, in fact, that I cited in my opening statements, in Title 31, also very clearly states that an officer or an employee of the United States may not make appropriations outside that which has been authorized, and in some cases recently, such as the Endangered Species Act, the courts have adjudged that appropriating funds is in and of itself authorizing programs, but that, again, departsthis is a new departure from even those concepts.
So I really think that we're moving outyou're an adventurous and very bright woman, but I think that we are embarking on a new form of law under this United States that may be a bit dangerous, and could amount to a very definite shift of power into the Office of the Executive.
Ms. MCGINTY. Chairman, if I might, I absolutely understand and respect the requirements of the Anti-Deficiency Act, and I think you're absolutely right to raise that up among the various laws that this initiative and every initiative needs to be in accord with, but I do want to underscore again that there is no new expenditure of funds of any kind here. This is simply an effort to try to facilitate a coordination among the agencies and a more efficient execution of the responsibilities they are charged with under any number of statutes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. In your earlier testimony, you were stating what the program would bevoluntary, locally driven, et cetera. You finished that cluster of items that it would be with a statement that I believe you said it would exert parent authority. Was that correct? Did I hear that correctly?
Ms. MCGINTY. I wouldn't understand what that statement was referring to, no. It could be the Philadelphia accent. I don't know.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. According to the Executive Order, it appears that you are the permanent co-chair of the Interagency Committee on the American Heritage Rivers, and will develop the procedures regarding the panel of experts that make recommendations to the President regarding the merit of particular river designations. Some would argue that this makes you the administration's rivers czar, which is a very, very powerful position in these United States. I just wondered, who, other than the President and his staff, and the Vice President, and maybe some members of his staff, but I would doubt that, oversee your work on this particular program?
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. I report directly to the President of the United States.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. OK. What was the sense of urgency that caused the President to issue the Executive Order rather than establishing this program through the more conventional means through the Congressby having authority, statutory authority come through the Congress?
Ms. MCGINTY. Let me address the first part of the question, which is the urgencyto recall for the Committee the history that the President announced his intention to launch this initiative in January of this year. It's been since January that we have engaged in extensive public outreach, public comment, participation, and development of the program. So it has been the better part of nine months that have been invested in putting this initiative together. So I don'tthere's been a longer history here to this, and this has been a program that has involved extensive outreach and public participation.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I just wish that our permitting process in every area could be as efficient as the White House has demonstrated their willingness to be in this particular issue. And I do want to bring back the testimony that Nancy Johnson had given the Committee and comments that you made about how the communities in Pennsylvania had actually gone about cleaning up the Delaware River, and that is the people's river. We all do feel very much a part of that effort and commend the people of that river basin for their fine work. But there are already-existing programs. Based on the good testimony that we have heard today, there is the National Rural Development Partnership Program that was initiated by President Bush, and generally, as far as the general overall ability to coordinate and try to help communities break rule the regulatory maze, President Bush had envisioned pulling this together to help communities.
There are hundreds of examples where communities have been helped. The only problem is that this new American Heritage Rivers Initiative will have the Director of CEQ as pretty much the head kahoona, the head honcho in this whole thing. And we are reinventing that which seemed to have been working pretty well under President Bush.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are many programs and a lot of help that can be given to communities in the form of grants, and so forth, and I realize there are small communities who may not have the sophistication to know where to go, but I know that those of us who are responsive to our constituents are inundated with casework and are willing to respond.
Did you wish to respond to that?
Ms. MCGINTY. Just to affirm the point that there are any number of programs out there that communities turn in any direction they can, including their congressional representatives, including having sometimes to hire expensive experts to help them wade through and access the resources that are their resources and that should be more effectively and efficiently put at their disposal.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Can you tell me, for the record, how do you define a river community for the purposes of this new program?
Ms. MCGINTY. There is no one-size-fits-all definition or command and control of what a river community constitutes. Because this is 100 percent locally driven, the locality will self-select. A community will decide or not decide to participate and will define itself, both who's going to be and who's going to be out, and what are the programs that the community is interested in pursuing.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Ms. McGinty, I want to return to the fact that our entire delegation asked to have the entire State of Idaho opted out of this program. What about a river nominated over its entire length of the water or the watershed, like the Columbia River, from a source outside of, say, my State? But some part of the river is within the boundaries of my State or the watershed impacts my State or my district. I want to get it on the record. Would that kind of nomination impact a nomination in Idaho, or will the veto that has been asserted here remain intact?
Ms. MCGINTY. Chairman, if the example is that a nomination comes forward and proposes that a stretch of river be nominated, and some part of that river has been subject to a veto, the veto extends to the proposal. That proposal would be vetoed, and it would be up to those who still want to participate to go back and recraft their nomination proposal, so that the community that has opted out is no longer a part of it, yes.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. Mr. Schaefer, do you have any other questions?
Mr. SCHAFFER. Yes, I would like to visit the river navigator topic again. One of the items that I had raised in our private meeting, as well as in the last hearing that we had, was with respect to river navigators or other Federal employees involved in the Heritage River Initiative, whether they would be permitted or whether we should expect to see them testifying in a water court or before a board of county commissioners or a city council with respect to a zoning decision of some sort? Are thesemy desire, as you know, is to have them precluded from participating in those kinds of hearings. Do you see any way to accommodate that desire on behalf of my constituents?
Ms. MCGINTY. Well, as a result of our conversations, we have accommodated these issues in at least two places in the final Federal Register notice. For example, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative will not conflict with matters of State and local government jurisdiction, such asand land use planning is mentioned there specifically in a separate item. It also reiterates that this initiative may not infringe on the existing authority of local governments to plan or control land use or to provide or transfer authority over such land use.
So in at least two places, and maybe more, we have made sure that the sovereignty of local authority over land use planning is absolutely respected here.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Respecting the sovereignty and authority of local land use planners is good, and I appreciate that. I'm speaking to something different, which is the river navigator showing up in a water court before a board of county commissioners, testifying against a landowner. Once again, what we're talking about here is this bill is about cash at the moment, about spending Federal funds on this particular project, and the question we have to resolve is whether this is inherently in the best interest of the public that will pay for them, If the billif you were to prevail and the bill would fail, and were rejected by this Committee or some other body along the process here, what would happen, essentially, is that landowners, property owners, income taxpayers throughout the country send their cash here to Washington, and we send it back to them in the form of somebody who will be employed now with those dollars to testify against them. That is the activity I would like to prevent.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Well, let me say two things, if I might, on thatwell, three. First of all, I do want to reiterate again that there are no new Federal dollars involved in this program, but, second, specifically to the point of what the Federal employee, this river navigator, will be doing, the Federal Register notice makes clear that employees of the Federal Government may not, as a result of this initiative, infringe this authority of local governments, and then, further, the Federal Register notice specifies that the community, rather than the river navigator, will be responsible for the implementation of the community's plan. The river navigator will have no authority to, among other things, adjudicate and may not engage in the following: lobbying, leadership of community partnership, or any of its endeavors, et cetera. So there is a clear proscription on the river navigator becoming a lobbyist of any kind with regard to any element of this plan. The plan is the responsibility of the community.
Mr. SCHAFFER. This is a newthis individual would represent a new level of Federal presence within a jurisdiction of some sort? It is a new
Ms. MCGINTY. This would be a person who isthis is not a new Federal presence. Again, these are existing programs. The people who have been involved in this initiative to date are all Federal employees already engaged in working in these areas under the various laws that govern these kinds of activities.
Mr. SCHAFFER. If the South Platte River in Colorado were designated as a Heritage River Initiative or designated as a river within the initiative, a river navigator would be employed and appointed
Ms. MCGINTY. Yes. Well, a river navigator would be identified with a community having the right to participate in the selection of that person, but the anticipation is that that is a person who is already employed by the Federal Government for these purposes. We're just asking those people to take on another job, and that is to be an ombudsman for a local community.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHAFFER. You have a person with a new title, with a new job description, with a new function, with a new designation for an existing river
Ms. MCGINTY. Which job description will be written by the community.
Mr. SCHAFFER. OK, I guess we have a difference of opinion as to whether that constitutes a new level of Federal involvement. I think it's undeniable that it doesthat it is a new level of Federal involvement, and that really is the question that is still not resolved. Protecting local zoning ordinances and authority, and so on, is fine, but all of a sudden this initiative has the potential of injecting a new Federal employee with a new job title, with a new set of responsibilities, and the question I wantlet me just reverse the question again and see if I can answer it that way. Is it possible that a Federal river navigator under this initiative could testify against a landowner in a water court, before a zoning board, or in any local setting of that sort?
Ms. MCGINTY. If it is possible for that Federal employee to do so today, there is nothing in this initiative that changes that in terms of what can happen
Mr. SCHAFFER. But there are no river navigators today. They're not there.
Ms. MCGINTY. But there is no authorityto the point, this program is not a piece of legislation. That means it can neither cede nor abrogate current Federal responsibilities or authorities. There will be nothing different in terms of Federal responsibilities or authorities tomorrow than there are today.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Is it possible that the person who is designated as the river navigator will testify in a water court or before a board of county commissioners in a zoning hearing or anything of that sort?
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. The answer is, if it is possible for that to happen todayand I have no information or understanding as to whether it isif it's possible for that to happen today, there is nothing in this program that would change that possibility tomorrow.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, let me askthis is more difficult than it needs to be.
Ms. MCGINTY. Ifif
Mr. SCHIFF. Let meOK, let's talk about today. Is it possible for one of these river navigators to go testify in a court today?
Ms. MCGINTY. I would cede to others who have expertise on this. I do not know
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, howthere are no river navigators today.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Why is this hard to answer?
Ms. MCGINTY. The answer is that there are no new authorities, that someone who's name today is Joe Smith and tomorrow is Joe Smith, River Navigator, they will have no new authorities when they have comma ''River Navigator'' after their name than they have today. And so if Joe Smith doesn't have that authority today, he will not enjoy that authority tomorrow when he's Joe Smith, River Navigator.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I'm just trying to get this answeryou know, the American public, who relies on these congressional records and the records and transcripts from these hearings, or a judge, who I assure you at some point in time is going to be reviewing this record to make a decision, wants to know what our intention is. And all I want to know is, is it possible that the river navigator, whether it's an existing person today or somebody that you hire out of the blue and put the job title and give them the business card, ''I am the River Navigator,'' is that personis it possible that that person can walk into a water court or a zoning board and provide testimony under that title?
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Sir, the only answer I can give you is, if, in the absence of this program, that person would have that authority, then the answer is yes. But if the answer is no, then the answer remains no.
Mr. SCHAFFER. So you're suggesting there's somebody who is the equivalent of a river navigator today?
Ms. MCGINTY. What I'm suggesting is that, assuming the title of river navigator affords a Federal employee no new rights or authority. And so if that Federal employee todaythere are no river navigators, but there are Federal employeesif those Federal employees do not have the authority that you're referring to, they will not have it as a consequence of this program.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Is it impossible to get a yes-or-no answer to the previous question?
Ms. MCGINTY. I'm being as clear as I possibly can. If there isif it currently is the case that Federal employees can testify as you are describing, then it still will be the case that Federal employees called ''river navigators'' will be able to do that, but I am not aware as to whether or notif we've got an expert who can tell us whether today a Federal employee can testify before a water court, if the answer to that is yes, then a Federal employee tomorrow would be able to do that, too, after this program is in effect.
But I don't know if we have
Mr. SCHAFFER. Madam Chairman, I'm just going to defer to the Chairman. I have stated that questionif there is some way to get a definitive answer on that, I would sure love to have it
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Is the general counsel here? I understand she is. Would you like to ask the general counsel, so we can get it on the record?
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHAFFER. Oh, sure. Sure. Is there
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Dinah, I wonder if you would stand and take the oath?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Please proceed.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Would you identify yourself? I don't know you.
Ms. BEAR. Yes, my name is Dinah Bear. I'm general counsel of the Council on Environmental Quality.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, you've heard the question and the answer.
Mr. SCHAFFER. But I want to knowis it
Ms. BEAR. OK, let me see if I can give this a try. But it is substantively the same answer that Ms. McGinty has been giving.
There are a number of circumstances in which Federal employees can testify in Federal, State courts or local proceedingsobviously, in their individual capacities, not as a Federal employee, but as a U.S. citizen; as a Federal employee. Federal agencies occasionally, of course, are suedsometimes by State and local agencies. They may be called on as witnesses. They may be subpoenaed in different circumstances and obligated to give testimony.
There is nothing about this program that would change any of those authorities or responsibilities. Similarly, or conversely, there is nothing about the designation of river navigator under the American Heritage Rivers Program that would give them any authority or responsibility, as I understand it, to appear in court or in any kind of special administrative or arbitrative proceeding as a river navigator.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHAFFER. That's understood.
Ms. BEAR. If they are a lawyer for an agency or a biologist or an engineer, and they're called on to testify in that capacity in court, in some sort of litigation or proceeding, there's nothing that would bar them from doing so as a result of their appointment as a river navigator, but they would not be representing the Federal Government in their capacity as a river navigator.
Mr. SCHAFFER. How about in the capacity of testifying against a landowner in a zoning hearing, before a zoning board, or a water rights-holder with respect to a water court?
Ms. BEAR. My understanding is that they would not be testifying in a capacity as a river navigator. I think where some of the confusion may be arising here is there's a reluctance to say they would not be able to testify, either voluntarily or as a result of a subpoena, in any kind of a proceeding in their other capacity as a Federal employee. I think Ms. McGinty has indicated that this would be in addition to the regular job, not necessarily a substitute for their job. And because the community would be developing the job description, it might or might not subsume the rest of the responsibilities.
But I think the key here, I think what you're looking for is whether or not there would be testifying against a landowner in their capacity as a river navigator, and I believe the answer to that is no. You, of courseor the Committee, of coursecould, I assume, ask river navigators to testify, if you wanted to do so, but that's the only exception that I can think of to that.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I suppose that would be correct. But let mewhich raises upwhich raises an old issue, at least as far as this issue has gone. In repeated questions as to whether anybody can envision a need or an occasion where the river navigator would testify against a landowner or a water rights-holder in a Federal water court, the answer is nofrom Ms. McGinty, from Bruce Babbitt, from Dan Glickman. Everyone says, no, we can't imagine when this would ever need to occur. My response was, well, it would make a lot of us feel better if we could just write that into the Executive Order or into the Federal Register or secure that guarantee some way or another. And it is the resistance from the Clinton Administration to providing that safeguard which causes the concern.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so it seems to me the question isthe question of, can a river navigatoris it possible that the river navigator could end up in front of a water court or a zoning board, testifying against a landowner, that the answer is yes, but we can't envision when that would be needed. Why would it be harmful
Ms. MCGINTY. The answer is
Mr. SCHAFFER. [continuing] to preclude the river navigator from testifying against a landowner or water rights-holder in a water court or before a zoning board?
Ms. MCGINTY. The answer is yesonly to the extent that that employee currently has that authority. The answer is no in terms of whether this initiative grants that employee that authority. It does not.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, Federal employees currently have the authority, is what I'm told. Is that not correct?
Ms. MCGINTY. I have no expertise on whether or not Federal employees have the authority to testify against local landowners in either land use or water use courts. To the extent that they do, there's nothing in this program that changes that equation. To the extent that they don't, there's also nothing in this program that changes that equation.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Ms. Bear
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I'll stop asking questions.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Ms. McGinty and Ms. Bear, I want to thank you very much for your testimony. It's been a long day. It's going to be suppertime before too long. And you can be excused now.
I would ask, if it's at all possible, for either you or your staff to remain and listen to the rest of the testimony, if that's possible, but you are excused now from the witness table, and thank you very much.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCGINTY. Thank you, Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Schaffer.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And the Chairman now recognizes our first panel. We have been at this for 5 hours almost, and I want to recognize Mr. William Perry Pendley from the Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver, Colorado; Mr. Robert Lynch, Central Arizona Project Association, Phoenix, Arizona; Ms. Lois Van Hoover, Idaho Multiple Land Use Coalition, Yellow Pine, Idaho; Mr. Desmond K. Smith, Trans Texas Heritage Association, Alpine, Texas, and Ms. Mary A. Yturria, Brownsville, Texas.
We welcome you all.
And while our panelists are taking their place at the witness table, I want to acknowledge two very special friends of mine who are present in the room, who came all the way from Idaho. Pat Barkley, who is president of the Idaho Multiple Land Use Coalitionher office is in Boise, Idaho. I know she spends as much time in Yellow Pine, Idaho as she can. I'd like that, too, Pat. I'm awful glad you're here.
And representative and a chairman of one of our more prominent committees in the Idaho legislature, Sylvia McHeath.
Thank you both for traveling across the country to be present and join us today.
So with that, I wonder if you might all stand and take the oath, please. Raise your right hand.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Pendley?
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM PERRY PENDLEY, MOUNTAIN STATES LEGAL FOUNDATION, DENVER, COLORADO
Mr. PENDLEY. Thank you, Madam Chairman. You have my prepared testimony for the record.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will just say to answer the question Congressman Schaffer askedFederal officials will testify, and they have testified. You need only look at the example of the New World Mine and the way the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park tried to prevent the opening of that mine. The water adjudications now going on in the State of Idaho have Federal witness after Federal witness. So the answer to the question is yes.
Just as Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, ''Regardless of the good you're trying to achieve, there's no excuse for doing it any other way than the constitutional way.'' And that's what we're dealing with here. We've got the cart before the horse. We're talking about essentially what is legislation, and I sense the frustration that the Committee has in trying to figure out, to paraphrase a famous example, ''Where's the beef? Where's the pork?''because you are buying essentially a pig in a poke here. You don't know. The ball is constantly in motion, as you heard the testimony here today, and anyone who puts any confidence at all in where it will be in the end is, I think, foolish.
I come from that part of the world, as you know, where the rubber hits the road. We are where all these good ideas and well-intended remarks are implemented by bureaucrats and their win-at-all-costs attorneys. We are out there where the caveats and the compromises and the concessions that have been made to protect us end up in the ditch, while the rights and the privileges and the economic opportunities of the people that are going to testify today wind up as roadkill in the middle of the highway.
And those who have the wherewithal of paying attorneysthose that don't, maybe they can get the attention of Mountain States Legal Foundation, and we can get in the litigationcome back here and say: What about all the agreements that were made? What about the compromises that were made to protect our rights? And we are told it's in litigation; Congress can't get involved.
Let me give a couple of examples. They're from testimony I've given before. They're situations that this body knows of well. We are told there's a self-defense exception in the Endangered Species Act, and yet the only man ever to kill a grizzly bear in his own yard is in his seventh year of litigation to try to use that self-defense claim, because the Fish and Wildlife Service doesn't like it and doesn't want it to be used.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are told that the Wilderness Act prohibition against motorized vehicles will be implemented sensibly, will use common law, and will allow for emergencies and dangerous situations and accidents and necessity. But, as you know from the famous Bobby Unser case, the Forest Service took the position that being in a wilderness in a snowmobile accidentally, out of necessity, or out of emergency is irrelevant; being there alone is a violation of Federal law.
And, finally, you know as well, when you pass a Wilderness Act, despite the valid existing rights protections that are put in, we have the Forest Service taking the official position that when Congress adopted the valid existing rights provision, it did not know what the phrase meant and so Forest Service can implement it any way it wants.
We remain optimistic. Hope springs, it seems, eternal. I think we are forever like Charlie Brown, thinking that Lucy this timethis timewill leave the ball on the ground, and that we're on the same page, if not maybe the same team, and that she won't pull the ball away from us, and everything will be OK. And it never is, and we just keeping hoping that this time it will be all right.
It strikes me as quite incredible that we have created this oppressive, monstrous bureaucracy that doesn't work, that can't deliver services efficiently, and we're told, ''Oh, but only if we had one more layer of bureaucracy, then we could assure the efficient delivery of services.''Oops, but only for 10 rivers, not for anybody else in America.
I point the Committee to the experience of the Natural Historic Landmarks (NHL), what happened under that oppressive program, how the National Park Service admitted that it violated property rights, and how eventually the NHL was used by neighbors to nominate lands for designation to prevent neighbors from using their property.
Listening to this, reading the Federal Register, we're left with only questionsquestions after questions of who, when, where, what, why. Who's going to be on the panel? Who's going to decide the terms? What is a vision? All unanswered.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And the point that Congressman Schaffer made with regard toI'm sorry, Chairman, you madewith regard to NEPA is a valid one. NEPA does not compel what Ms. McGinty is doing or what this President is doing. NEPA, in fact, compels that this administration do what it has refused to do, which is to comply with NEPA, publish this, go through an EA, go through a FONSI, go through an EIS, and allow the American people to comment on it.
The fact of the matter is there is absolutely no statutory authority for what the administration is doing here. There are so many questions undecided.
When I came here somebody cynically suggested to meI thought it was cynicallythat people will do this because of pork. I thought that was cynical until I got here and listened to the testimony, and it strikes me as maybe it is pork, and I say, geez, what a low price for which to sell one's liberty.
We have a Constitution that guarantee how our government should do business. The Bill of Rights is not the source of our protection exclusively. It is the way our government is structured that is that source. Read, for example, Justice Scalia's opinion in the Brady case earlier this year, where he lays it out very thoughtfully that source of the guarantee of our rights comes from the way the government is structured, the vision of our government, and the fact that this is the body that adopts legislation, and the executive branch is the body that implements it.
I know my time expired, but let me just add one parenthetical. What will be the ''balance'' implemented out there in the field? Pick up this morning's copy of The Washington Post and look at the balance this administration takes with regard to western resources, where the administration, in balancing the needs of the Nation for energy, in the most potentially productive area of the lower 48, Overthrust Belt of Montana, has said, no, we're not going to allow oil and gas activities there; we're going to set it all aside for environmental purposes. And so anybody who thinks that this Federal Register notice, where it talks about economic activity, will answer some recognition of that activity, I think, again, is foolish.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, let me just say that I don't think these people are going to wait until they are roadkill, until their rights are roadkill, in this particular program. I don't think we're going to have to wait until the rights are violated for a lawsuit to go forward. I think this whole program will be challenged, and we'll have the opportunity to have a Federal judge asked some of the questions that the gentleman from Colorado and you, Madam Chairman, are asking, and maybe we'll get some better answers.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pendley may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Pendley.
And the Chair now recognizes Mr. Lynch for his testimony.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT S. LYNCH, CENTRAL ARIZONA PROJECT ASSOCIATION, PHOENIX, ARIZONA
Mr. LYNCH. Thank you, Madam Chairman and Mr. Schaffer, for the opportunity to appear here today and testify on the American Heritage Rivers Initiative and the Chairman's bill, H.R. 1842, which I might note with some pleasure will be co-sponsored by my Congressman, Mr. Shadegg, who I believe notified you of that earlier this afternoon. I have submitted copies of my written testimony to the Committee, and I'll try not to repeat that.
The primary focus of the Central Arizona Project Association is, of course, the Central Arizona Project itself, formed in 1946 to promote the project, its authorization, its construction, and its operation. And I'm pleased to report that this year CAP will deliver approximately 1.5 million acre feet of Colorado River water through a 336-mile canal system through the metropolitan areas of central Arizona. It supplies about two-thirds of our population.
We are not, however, without problems, and those are all, you might imagine, environmental, and they affect the main stem of the Colorado River. Our interest in this initiative stems from our activities in Arizona to solve problems and our fear that this initiative may add a layer of bureaucracy that interferes with the problem-solving that is ongoing in Arizona.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I might note that I have heard a great deal about this initiative today from Ms. McGinty that isn't in the Federal Register notice, and it sounds a lot like the beginnings of a second set of regulations and detail. And we were concerned before we heard that detail; we're even more concerned now because we can't figure out where CAP fits into this scheme.
Unfortunately, the beneficiaries of the Central Arizona Project and the Colorado River don't live on the Colorado River and they don't work on the Colorado River. They live in central Arizona. Phoenix is 190 miles from the Colorado River. Tucson's another 120 miles southeast of us. And yet the beneficiaries of the Central Arizona Project have as much concern about the Colorado River as do our residents and citizens who live on the river. Yet this initiative pays only lip service to those beneficiaries and doesn't involve them either in the nomination process or anything other than a tangential sort of reference to a plan.
Frankly, we don't need a plan. We've got a plan. In the Lower Colorado River Basin, it's called a multi-species conservation plan. It is supported by a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States involving all three lower basin States, major environmental groups, and other interests. We don't need interference with that plan. What we need is for the employees of the Federal Government who are already committed to that plan, to our plan, not to be diverted from that by having to pay attention to this initiative.
And one of our great concerns is that, with all the cost-cutting that's going on and the paring-down of Federal agencies, you're getting down somewhere close to essential numbers of personnel doing tasks who have certain skills. And if those skills are diverted, and if those people are diverted to this, we're afraid that we won't be able to get our problem-solving done under the Endangered Species Act in this plan, or in the upper basin's conservation plan, a recovery plan for four endangered fish. So we're very concerned about what's going to happen to the people we need to continue our problem-solving if they get, because of their expertise, their understanding of rivers, and their scientific backgrounds, diverted into this whole new program.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We're also concerned about the process. I have to disagree with Ms. McGinty; I think they have, in fact, created new regulations, because there's a consultation mechanism in the Executive Order. I don't know why people aren't paying attention to it, but I consider that some real problem in terms of figuring out the process, the consultation requirements that Congress has legislated in several other areas.
And let me speak about reprogramming. Ms. McGinty said no reprogramming. There's got to be reprogramming. The beneficiaries of CAP pay, through water and power charges, for Federal employees to do work that's considered reimbursable expense. If they are then diverted to this, they're going to pay for this, too. This certainly ought not to be a reimbursable expense to the beneficiaries of local projects who agreed in contract what they were going to be obligated to. Now this is being laid on top of it.
I know I'm out of time, and there are many more witnesses, but I just want to say I agreed fully with what Mr. Pendley said. The National Environmental Policy Act does not authorize this program and it's not a legal foundation for it.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lynch may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Lynch, I want to thank you for your testimony, and Mr. Pendley.
We have been called to another vote, and we will look forward to hearing from Lois Van Hoover when we get back. And I can see some of you back there who have sat all day long waiting for your chance to respond to our request, to hear from you, and I thank you very much for your patience. It is beyond my control, though, and my responsibility is to make sure that Mr. Schaffer and I can get over there and vote and do our job like our constituents expect of us and cast the vote.
So there will be two votes probably, and we'll hit the tail-end of this vote, and the next vote will be a 5-minute vote. Hopefully, we'll be back in 15 to 20 minutes. So bear with us. Thank you.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Recess.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. This hearing will come to order. We will resume testimony by hearing from Lois Van Hoover from Yellow Pine, Idaho.
STATEMENT OF LOIS VAN HOOVER, IDAHO MULTIPLE LAND USE COALITION, YELLOW PINE, IDAHO
Ms. VAN HOOVER. Good afternoon, Madam Chair. As you said, I'm Lois Van Hoover, and I represent the Idaho Multiple Plan Use Coalition. Additionally, I sit on the boards of the Idaho Council on Industry and the Environment, the Independent Miners, and the Alliance of Independent Miners. I am a co-founder of a new group that is forming called the Natural Resource Advocacy Center, and I live in Yellow Pine, Idaho with my husband, Leo.
I just want to speak briefly, encapsulate my written statement. When I first reviewed the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, I think my first response to that was that it was harmlesseven though it wouldn't do anything, it wouldn't be effective. With a little further review, I had some real concerns about private property rights and State rights. I need to say that I reviewed this with Katie McGinty's office, and they did put some verbiage in to try to appease those fears. I have to say that I'm still not totally satisfied, obviously, with what I was told.
Ms. McGinty, at the Western States Coalition meeting last July in Spokane, and again today, stated that her inspiration for this program was the Philadelphia waterfront revitalization. However, the Philadelphia projects have been done through a partnership of private and public entities without the benefit of this program, and it didn't addthere was no added bureaucracy from the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. Many cities and communities in my home State of Idaho have done similar projects without the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, and have not required an additional tax burden on the American people.
Further research indicated that the American Heritage Rivers Program is practically a carbon copy of the Canadian Heritage Rivers Program. Amazingly enough, one could exchange the verbiage from one program to the other. The St. Corry River, on the border of Maine, is part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers Program and is administered by a joint international committee.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to thank you and the rest of the delegation for opting out of this program. I think that that is one of the best things that could happen to the State of Idaho.
In June when I was in Ms. McGinty's office, I asked them to defineI did not; somebody in the party did, actuallyto define what a river community was. The definitions variedeverything from a river basin to a watershed. And if we're talking about a river community being a watershed, Idaho is a watershed and the headwaters for a lot of different States. And I did hear Ms. McGinty's answer today to your question, Madam Chair, but I still have a question over the jurisdiction of those headwaters, as the example you used, being the Columbiafor the headwaters that would originate in the State of Idaho, and who would have jurisdiction over those waters. That also raises a question of the State's primacy over its water, and as you know, the Supreme Court has held that up many timesthat the State does have primacy over its water.
Is it possible that the American Heritage Rivers Initiative could include efforts such as zoning that typically come under county government? I suppose that question is a NEPA question. If we are designating rivers and we're going through a NEPA process, and we have county plans or community plans for the river community, will those plans come under NEPA? And if they come under NEPA, that takes away local control. And I have some questions about that, and I believe those are all the jurisdictional questions. That does not take into consideration theagain, I would like to statethe international borders.
And as a voting, tax-paying American citizen, I take offense to programs that are being initiated by Executive Order, when they should have gone through the legislative process. One of the strengths the Founding Fathers built into our form of government was the separation of powers between the President and the Congress.
Cities and counties are perfectly capable of deciding how to manage their land. Local control with input from local consensus groups will provide the best results.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It seems to me that the Federal Government has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of the United States of America. This initiative duplicates an existing program: the Rural Development Partnership established by the Bush Administration in 1991. It is already operating in 38 States. You do not reinvent government by duplicating and adding a layer of Federal bureaucracy, nor do you satisfy your responsibility to the taxpayers.
And one of the major differences between what was put in by the Bush Administration and this initiative is that it is headed in each State, and the Governor of each State puts out who is going to nominate the director for the Rural Partnership.
One of the selling points of the initiative is that it will make use of existing Federal personnel. In Idaho, we already do that. For example, the head of our EPA office is working on the Rural Development Partnership. Will he be able to do both? Or would another Federal employee be pulled away from his present duties to be assigned to this program? In any case, who will do the task that these Federal employees are doing now? In fact, who is paying the current 12 members of the American Heritage Rivers Working Group and who is doing their job while they are working on this initiative?
The additional Federal initiative is proposed at a time when we are supposed to be downsizing Federal Government and giving more control to the States. This is the exact opposite.
We do not need a river czar. We do need to have Federal employees who simply do their jobs. We do not need the American Heritage Rivers Program, even though Ms. McGinty said in Spokane last July that she was doing this program because she could not trust State and local government and the private sector to do the job.
If one of the major reasons for the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is to recognize outstanding efforts by communities on behalf of our river heritage in this country, I would suggest that the local communities could be recognized with a plaque that can be placed at the city limits noting their achievement, or you could even include a description of the community's unique efforts in the Congressional Record. But I strongly believe that anything to do within the boundary of the State and the State waters is best left at the State and local level.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Van Hoover may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mrs. Van Hoover.
The Chair now recognizes Mr. Desmond Smith, and I understand that you have twice canceled your flight, and will be departing right after your testimony. So we will excuse you.
STATEMENT OF DESMOND K. SMITH, TRANS TEXAS HERITAGE ASSOCIATION, ALPINE, TEXAS
Mr. DESMOND SMITH. Thank you for inviting me to testify. My name is Desmond Smith. I'm a rancher from Lampastas, Texas, where me and my wife operate a ranch that's been in her family for 147 years. I'm president of the Trans Texas Heritage Association. I'm here today representing our members who own 15.5 million acres of private property in Texas, and 1 million acres in New Mexico.
Over the past few years, landowners have been trying to make Congress and the public understand the concept of the regulatory taking of private property, but we have not been very successful. We understand that Federal designations can bring with them limitations of the use of private property. This is why we are concerned about the American Heritage River Initiative.
We found that Garry Mauro, the Commissioner of the Texas Land Office, was pushing for local officials along the Rio Grande to petition the river for designation as an American Heritage River. A friend of ours in the Governor's office told us about a meeting that was going to take place in Laredo on the 28th of April of this year. My wife and one other director of our organization decided to go.
When we walked in, the people at the desk started looking for our name tags, but I told them they wouldn't find them. It turned out that the meeting was by invitation only. There were people from all levels of government, also from the Nature Conservancy the Audubon Society. If we had not shown up, there wouldn't have been any representation from any property rights group.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Garry Mauro breezed into the meeting for a few minutes, and there was a lot of back-slapping and glad-handing. It was suggested that he should be made the river navigator during the process of the meeting.
Since then, we've learned that this is supposed to a bottoms-up initiative, but what was obvious that day was that the Texas General Land Office and Commissioner Mauro were really backing this. At this meeting people talked about AHRI in terms of clean water, cultural heritage, economical development. I stood up and asked the question if this would include our friends in Mexico. The fellow from the Council of Environmental Quality said it wouldn't. Then I asked him how they expected to clean up the Rio Grande when Mexico pollutes the river, and he didn't answer.
Right after that the moderator asked everyone to stand and state their name and organization affiliations. Everyone there except us was either from the government or the Nature Conservancy or the Audubon Society. It was clear that the meeting was anything but grassroots and bottoms-up.
Now I've lived in Texas all in my life, and my organization has members who are property owners along the Rio Grande. The people who were invited to the meeting do not speak or represent all the people along the Rio Grande. The landowners I represent do not want their land designated as an American Heritage Rivernot now, not ever.
Ever since that meeting, we've been trying to figure out what AHRI is all really about, and nothing we have been told makes any sense. The CEQ assured us there would be no Federal dollars and no new regulations.
When Mr. Ray Clark with the CEQ came to Austin on July the 9th, we asked him if the AHRI was about improving water quality; if so, given the fact that we already have the Clean Water Act, and especially since Mexico dumps raw sewage and industrial waste into the Rio Grande, how would the AHRI, with no new regulations, improve water quality? If not water quality, then how about restoring water quantity? Mr. Clark told us the AHRI would have nothing to do with removing dams and improve impoundments along the river.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If there are no new Federal regulations and no Federal dollars, what can we accomplish with AHRI that can't be accomplished now? Nothing. If we private property owners hadn't done such a good job caring for our land, I doubt if the Federal Government and the environmentalists would be so interested in it. Public ownership and access to land does not offer the same protection as the loving care it receives at the hands of private property owners. If resource protection is a problem, private propertynot public ownershipis, and always has been, the best solution.
I understand Congressman Reyes and the people of El Paso want a river walk. Well, San Antonio has a river walk, and have had it for years, and they didn't have to get a Federal designation to accomplish that. What is really going on here?
The thinking people of this Nation were shocked and sickened by Clinton's arrogant designation of the Grand StaircaseEscalante National Monument. Now he has given us the American Heritage River Incentive. There are two things that I find very unsettling about this incident. The first is that the administration thinks the American people are so stupid we would fall for this. The second is the negative property rights implication inherent in the Federal designation of anything.
I'm asking you folks to please do the American people a great service and pass H.R. 1842not just out of this Committee, but out of the full Congress. I thank you for your time. God bless each of you and our Nation, and thank you for having me.
Now may I be excused?
[The prepared statement of Mr. Desmond Smith may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You are a real trooper. I do want to let you know thatand I wanted to announcethat I have just received, and will place into the record a letter from eight members of the Texas delegation to President Clinton asking to have their districts exempted from the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And now you may be excused.
Mr. DESMOND SMITH. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much.
Mrs. Yturria, you have been patient all day, and we welcome your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MARY A. YTURRIA, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS
Ms. YTURRIA. Thank you very much, Madam Chairman, for being kind enough to ask me to appear here today.
After explaining a little bit about who I am and where I came from, I want to make two points about why some of us who live on the Texas/Mexico border are working so hard to secure an American Heritage River designation for the Rio Grande. One concerns what border communities will face if we do not get more engaged in dealing with the degradation of our river. The other concerns the opportunity we have to celebrate and share with America our very unique history and culture. I will then give you a thumbnail sketch of how we hope to take advantage of the initiative and share my concern over the legislation you are considering.
The Rio Grande flows 1,800 miles, making it our Nation's second-longest river. In my State it serves as our border with Mexico, and I am one of over million Texans who live and work in communities along its banks. My home is in Brownsville, Texas, a city near the mouth of the Rio Grande. We are property owners, working ranches that have been in my husband's family for over 140 years.
Fifty years ago, when I married Frank Yturria and came to the Rio Grande Valley, I quickly learned that the quality of our lives, our health, and our well-being are linked to the river and its waters. I soon learned that there is a special Rio Grande heritage that is very complex and sometimes almost magical. It's a fine place to live. I knew immediately I would never leave.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Rio Grande is the principal source of water for our towns and cities. Its water irrigate our farmland, sustain our industry, and nourishes vital ecosystems and wildlife habitat. They support a tourist industry that ranges from hunting and fishing to birding and whitewater rafting. When the border economy is seen from a business perspective, it is clear the river is our most important asset.
Congress has had ample opportunity to examine the conditions of his river and the plight of communities along its banks. Some say it is America's most polluted river. I say let's get to work and clean it up. Some say border growth will cause water demand to outstrip what the river can offer. I say let's make better use of what we have.
If our communities along the Rio Grande are to survive, we all must work to build the economy in concert with the wise use of our river. We who live and work along the Rio Grande must be allowed to create partnerships, plan for the future, and get meaningfully engaged. If we are prevented from doing so by H.R. 1842, we will all loserich, poor, Democrat, Republican, colonias dweller, property owner, even the Federal Government.
Madam Chairman, I want to make another point. The river is something more than an economic asset at risk; it symbolizes the heart of a treasured heritage. In Texas the Rio Grande is both a dividing line between two nations and the place where two cultures have joined to produce a unique borderlands heritage. We treasure our history and our unique mixture of language and customour food, our architecture, our music. Along the Rio Grande you will find people from all stations in life working to preserve and celebrate that heritage. Some are Anglos; some are Hispanics. Some have wealth; some do not. Like the waters of the river, our Rio Grande culture is a precious asset, a key facet of America's frontier heritage. Those working to preserve that history and celebrate our heritage deserve recognition, encouragement, and sometimes a helping hand. They, too, want to build partnerships. They want to bring to the Rio Grande the private foundations, great public institutions, and our own hands that built so many American communities.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When I first heard of the American Heritage Rivers idea, I was thrilled. The idea of looking at all the dimensions of our riversphysical, historical, culturalmade a lot of sense to me, but what really excited me was the emphasis on local initiative to identify needs and plan responses. Let me repeat that: What really excited me was the emphasis on local initiative to identify needs and plan responses. I thought someone in Washington has finally gotten it.
Better than anyone, we who live and work here know our river, what needs to be done, what we can do on our own, and when we need help. I hoped our local leaders would seize the opportunity, seek the designation, and build a partnership with the Federal Government in which the local authorities and managing partners are partners. I was not disappointed. Within a few weeks, all along the Rio Grande, mayors and county officials were looking into the President's proposal, assisted by our representatives and State officials. Civic groups came forward, as well as private citizens and landowners like me. When private property concerns were expressed, the White House made a special effort to brief the Texas Farm Bureau in Waco, agricultural interests in Austin, Governor Bush's office, and other State agencies. Throughout the 90-day comment period, people came forward with suggestions on how to shape this initiative. Some came with ideas about what to do and what not to do. There were, of course, those who suggested we do nothing with the Federal Government.
To fan the flames of anti-government sentiment is not fair to communities around the country, and those who do so will lose. That also is an impractical solution when dealing with the Rio Grande River. We don't want an absence of government; we want the presence of better government. Fortunately, positive thinking is prevailing, encouraged by leaders like Congressman Silvestre Reyes from El Paso, Mayor Saul Ramirez, Jr., and Judge Mercurio Martines from Laredo. My own mayor, Henry Gonzales from Brownsville, and his colleagues in city and county government throughout the Lower Rio Grande Valley have supported
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mrs. Yturria, will you be able to wrap it up?
Ms. YTURRIA. I know, it'soh, this is very hard to do. I would like to say that the Rio Grande River is in a class all by itself because it is the river that separates two nations. We have Federal problems there, as you can well imagine. NAFTA was pushed through. We were promised all kinds of help. We've not gotten it. We're sitting down there desperate. Austin has neglected that valley and Washington almost pretends that we do not exist, and this is not acceptable.
Thank you very much, Madam Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Yturria may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much.
And the Chair recognizes Mr. Schaffer for questions.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Before I'd ask any questions, I'd note that Mr. Pendley's written testimony contains a number of very useful and very well-researched commentary on legal opinion with respect to the legal questions surrounding the propriety, I guess, of the whole American Heritage Rivers Initiative in the first place.
What I would suggest, Madam Chairman, and ask it to be part of the Committee's deliberations, is to send another letter to the Council on Environmental Quality stating specifically these concerns that Mr. Pendley has outlined and request, as part of our consideration of the legislation before us, answers to these particular challenges and questions and request, in providing it, a suitable deadline at the Chairman's discretion as to when we would like to have those questions answered. But I think that would provide for the Committee's deliberations a pretty good picture about the legal basis for the American Heritage Rivers Initiative and, again, shed some light on the propriety of the program and the necessity of your legislation.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Without objection, so ordered, and we will set a deadline of 30 days.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SCHAFFER. I'd like to ask Mr. Pendleyyou mentioned the Brady Act briefly. I'd like you to speak a little bit more to that, the relationship between the Brady Act and the Prince v. United States case, and the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Mr. PENDLEY. Yes, I should give the lawyer disclosure comment. I am admitted to the practice of law in Wyoming, Colorado, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
I think it's instructive to reflect on the Brady Act case, simply because of what happened here in the House. Congressman Joe Skeen, when the Brady Act was coming up on the floor, he said, ''We cannot order sheriffs to do this work. This is not a role of Congress. Sheriffs don't work for Congress. We can't do this.'' Others said, ''No, no, it's very, very important; we've got to save lives. The objective is the key thing; the way we do it is unimportant, and we have to do this.''
And it got to the Supreme Court, fortunately, and the U.S. Supreme Court said, ''No, there's certain ways you do things under the Constitution.'' In Justice Scalia's opinion, he lays out very carefully how our Founding Fathers put together our system of government; that it's a system of dual sovereignty; that we have the Federal Government does; the Federal Government has certain things the Federal Government, and we have the State governments and there are certain things the State government does.
What the Supreme Court opinion finally concluded was that in earlier decisions the Supreme Court had said Congress cannot order States to do certain things on pain of receipt of Federal funds, certain things that fall within the responsibility of a State. What we are saying in this opinion, said Justice Scalia, is that Congress cannot circumvent States and order employees of the Statein other words, sheriffsto do what the Congress could not order the States to do.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So what the opinion stands for, once again, is this fundamental principle that we heard in the Supreme Court decision in Lopez with regard to the Safe School Yard Act. Once again, it was something everybody agreed on: we certainly can't have people bringing guns into school yards. But thirty-five States have laws that prohibit guns on school yards, so we don't need a Federal law to do that. The Supreme Court said, furthermore, it's a violation of the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause to do so.
So I think that's an effective summary of what the Supreme Court decided in that case. But I would also say that Scalia pointed out in his opinion that every generation meets new emergencies, and there are emergencies of the day that we hear about and we're told, ''Gee, we've got to bypass these technicalities in our Constitution in order to solve this emergency, this crisis.'' The fact of the matter is these provisions are adopted for our protection to ensure that we don't do that.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I'd like to ask Mrs. Yturria, if I could, for a momentyou mentioned that the Texas Farm Bureau was part of the meeting with the Council on Environmental Quality when they came and explained their posture on some of the property rights issues, and so forth. Does the Texas Farm Bureau support the initiative as it stands?
Ms. YTURRIA. Oh, well, I am told that they did. I was not at that meeting, so
Mr. SCHAFFER. The other question that I have in the time remainingyou mentionedyou stated that this bill in front of us would prevent communities from working together on projects regarding the Rio Grande River. Earlier, I don't know if you were here or not, but Congressman Reyes was here speaking about his desire to see the river preserved and protected, and communities come together and work together. I would just point out, by way of example, my State in Colorado has had a number of projects over the years where we have had similar concerns and managed to provide various protections and have communities come together through the work of a congressional office of a United States Senator's office or other elected officials. Do you believe there's something that prevents your Congressman or your mayoryou mentioned Mayor Gonzales in Brownsvilleor other elected officials from using the resources and the experience that they have in their offices to accomplish these goals?
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. YTURRIA. That is a very complex question. Brownsville isabout 3 years ago, it was noted that it was the poorest city in the United States. Now it's true, Congressmen and Senators come down, and what do they do? They go to a meeting place, and they are there for perhaps 20 or 30 minutes. They never see the colonias; they never see the horror stories that exist in my area.
We need someone to come to that border and see for themselves what really exists. I think people know morethe people in Washington seem to know more about Bosnia than they know about Brownsville, Texas. Really, you can't believe what kind of a condition that border is in and how few people come and really take the time to go out and look at what the reality is.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Schaffer.
Mrs. Yturria, the Resources Committee disclosure form that you completed says that you're representing the General Land Office in the State of Texas. What is you relationship with the General Land Office, for the record?
Ms. YTURRIA. I hold no position in the Texas Land Office. Over the years since I have been very involved in environmental issues, naturally that would be the office that I would have worked through over the years, and that is my contact with the Land Office.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Was your testimony approved by the General Land Office in the State of Texas?
Ms. YTURRIA. Yes, it was.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. OK. Thank you.
Ms. YTURRIA. You're welcome.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Pendley, could you cite for the record the similarities between the President's use of the Antiquities Act in Utah and this program, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative?
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PENDLEY. I don't think we want to go on that long, do we, Madam Chairman? There are a lot of similarities, obviously. Congress was very clear with regard to the Antiquities Act and what the President could do. The President could set aside areas that are ''scientific,'' areas that are ''historic.'' He had to limit it to ''the smallest area'' necessary compatible with the resource. I don't think there's any way in the world that you can say 1.7 million acres of scenic land, largely scenic land, meets that requirement. So, No. 1, you have this situation where there is no statutory authority for the President's action.
Let's look now at the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. Ms. McGinty, as you pointed out, Madam Chairman, the only thing she cites to for authority is the purposes section of NEPA, which is all the feel good language about what Congress is trying to achieve. The instructive language, the mandatory language, follows, and the mandatory language is: Do a study once you propose an action that ''significantly affects the quality of the human environment,'' that is, if it's a ''major Federal action.'' So on both issues I think there is no statutory authority for the President to act.
With regard to the Utah situation, what became clear afterwards was that nobody in Utah had ever been notified. This was an initiative that went forward because environmental groups inside Utah that were not effective in electing congressional representatives that represented their point of view, and people from outsidefor example, Robert Redford who was consulted prior to the designationdemanded it. The President did not consult with anybody locally. He ignored what the Governor wanted, basically left the Governor sitting outside the Oval Office awaiting a meeting with the President. In fact, as I understand it, there was a phone call made to the Governor of Utah. He was told that: We have no plans to do this, and then at 2 a.m. another call went in: We're about to announce it; in 5 hours we will announce it. So there was no consultation, no recognition of the unique role that the delegation plays.
And here, of course, all we have is this representation you received this afternoon that, yes, we'll consult; yes, we'll make sure that the locals are taken care of. In addition, of course, you have this balance issue. We're told in the Federal Register documents that they're going to take recognition of economic activities; that they're going to ensure economic activities are taken care of. In Utah the President had the unique opportunity to permit a trillion dollar coal deposit that represents $2 billion to the school children of the State of Utah to go forward, and he choose not to. He choose to set it all aside. And so no wonder we have great fears with regard to a river initiative where we're concerned about economic activities. I think any concerns on that issue are justified.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Pendley, does your foundation intend on suing the Federal Government over this particular point?
Mr. PENDLEY. Well, certainly we're looking at it. As I lay out in my statement, I think there's a lot of violations here. We have this unique situation. I don't think I've ever seen a situation like this before where we have a program announced by the President for which there is absolutely no statutory authority. The only thing that Ms. McGinty can cite to is the purposes section of NEPA, and she says, that's our authority; that's why we're forced to do this, compelled to this. Gee, I just think it's a no-brainer: they can't do this.
And when you add the uncertainty, the indistinctness of all of this, the arbitrary and capriciousness of it is even more questionable. If we are significantly affecting the human environmentand, of course, Ms. McGinty says we arewe're going to make it all better; we're going to improve the environment, then NEPA requires preparation of these documents. They are required not just when you improve the environment, but when you adversely affect the environment, both when you adversely affect it and when you improve it. Anyany impact on the environment requires a NEPA compliance. So she says we're going to make it all better. I think she's got a major Federal action that significantly affects the quality of the human environment. At the very least, that's an issue as well. I think the issue you brought up of the Anti-Deficiency Actwe got this reprogrammingraises serious questions. Also does it violate the Reorganization Act? I think there's a lot of issues yet to be decided there, and at bottom Congress is the entity that has the authority under the Commerce Clause to take action with regard to our navigable streams and our rivers. I think Congress has to start it.
And this idea that, well, we announced this initiative and then we came up and talked to you, so it's OK now, and you'll do oversightI mean, where's your hammer? I don't see where the hammer is. I don't see how you rein them inthe very point the Congressman from Colorado made.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So the bottom line is our board of directors has to approve all the cases that we undertake. Our board of directors has not yet approved a case like this, but whenever we see this kind of mischief, we are interested.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The Chair yields back to Mr. Schaffer for any further questions.
Mr. SCHAFFER. No, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I have some more. I have a question for Lois Van Hoover. Thank you, Mr. Pendley.
Why do you not believe that this program will be voluntary, nonregulatory, as its promoters claim? Why are you suspicious about it?
Ms. VAN HOOVER. Any time you put another layer of bureaucracy, there has to be some guiding mechanism, and guiding mechanism ends up being regulation, either in guidance or in actual regulation, as we see it today.
There is nothing out therethey're talking about an initiative that requires no funding and no additional programs. So why do we need it? So the only purpose to have it is so that the Federal Government can hold our hand because we're not smart enough to do it ourselves and lead us down the road they want us to go. And there has to be some kind of regulation or they change the word and call it ''guidance,'' but it is the same thing.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you.
I also wanted to ask Mr. Lynch if you would further elaborate about the possible impacts of the consultation language in the Executive Order to various resource users?
Mr. LYNCH. Yes, Madam Chairman. I'll give you two specifics that are in statute. The consultation requirement under the 1968 Colorado River Basin Project Act: the seven basin States must be consulted with by the Secretary of the Interior for plans for operating the dams constructed on the Colorado River. That's done through an annual operating plan process and through periodic review of long-range operating criteria that were established pursuant to that Act.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is also another Act that pertains to the Colorado River, as an example, the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act, in which there are, I believe, three provisions that directly order the Secretary to consult with affected interests that are named in that Act. I look atand I think in my written testimony I pointed out that consultation with affected interests does not occur under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service takes the position that that is a one-on-one debate between the consulting agency and the Service, and the rest of us are left out of the process.
I wouldn't be so worried about this if it were in the CEQ program, but it's in the Executive Order. The President says you will consult with these entities that constitute whatever this river community is, if there's been a designation. That's a direct command, and if he does have the authority, then he is making an Executive command to the Federal agencies. He is, in fact, setting up a consultation program, and he has thatif he has the basic authority for the program at all, he clearly has the Executive authority to issue those kinds of directions.
Now I agree with Mr. Pendley that there is no foundational authority for this program, but there clearly, if this goes forward, is Executive authority for him to order the agencies around, and that is exactly what he's done. And I don't see how you square with the specifically mandated congressional consultation programs where you've made these designations and how you square it with the lack of consultation that we suffer with some of these other programs. It seems to me that we're just asking for trouble, and I think it was a serious mistake for the Executive Order to make that provision in sort of a casual way, either without elaboration or some specificity. I think it's going to cause us a lot of problems trying to go forward with the kind of problem-solving we're doing in the Colorado River Basin now and the changes we need.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Lynch. I want to thank the panelists for their very outstanding testimony, and excuse you now, and welcome the second panel.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Honorable Gordon Ross, Coos County Commissioner, Coos County, Oregon; the Honorable David Young, Buncombe County Commissioner, Asheville, North Carolina; Mr. Bill DeVeny, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Boise, Idaho; Mr. David Allan Ealy, Perrysville, Indiana, and Ms. Carol LaGrasse, Property Rights Foundation of America, Stony Creek, New York.
If you would all please take your place at the witness tablewould you please stand and raise your right hand?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Young has a plane to catch, and he's asked if we might go out of order, and we will. I'll call on Mr. Young first to deliver his testimony.
STATEMENT OF DAVID YOUNG, BUNCOMBE COUNTY COMMISSIONER, ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Mr. YOUNG. Thank you, Madam Chairman. My name is David Young. I'm a resident of Asheville, located in western North Carolina. I'm here today to speak to you as a citizen, small business owner, local elected official, and chairman of the Riverlake Task Force, spearheading the nomination of the French Broad River as an American Heritage River. French Broadinteresting name for a riverit was the broad point in a French territory.
In all of these capacities, I fully support the American Heritage River Initiative. Our task force has been following the American Heritage River Initiative since the President announced the program on February the 4th. Our task force is comprised of interested citizens, chamber of commerce executives, elected officials from throughout the river basin, riverfront property owners, recreational enthusiasts, artists, craftsmen, tourists, development experts, and nonprofit agencies. And I'm not going to read from my text; I'm just going to summarize a few points for you, Madam Chairman.
In forming our task force to nominate the French Broad River, we have made a conscious effort to not make this a partisan effort. In fact, we have had tremendous bipartisan support. We have had over 2,000 endorsements similar to the ones in your packet. We have letters from the Governor of North Carolina, Jim Hunt, a Democrat; the Governor of Tennessee, Don Seques, a Republican; resolutions from the Henderson County commissioners, who are all Republicans, and the Buncombe County commissioners, who are all Democratsall in support of this effort to nominate the French Broad as an American Heritage River.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This issue is bigger than politics in our area. We must look beyond politics to the people side of this issue and improving the quality of life for the citizens who reside in our area.
In our efforts to name the French Broad River as an American Heritage River, we realize that we have already won the prize. We have come together in a whole new way, formed new partnerships and alliances, and discovered are neighbors againnot just nearby cities and counties, but our sister State, Tennessee. These are things that perhaps we should have done, but we didn't.
On May 1, we hosted a public input session in Nashville. Many of the suggestions from that meeting have been incorporated into the permanent criteria for the American Heritage River Initiative. During our May 1st meeting, public comments were heard from residents from two States, along with elected officials, property owners, business men/women. We basically came together, discussed plans for our future, and excitement has grown from that initial meeting.
What we discovered is we need the American Heritage River Initiative. We know that alone no one entity, no one government agency, no foundation, no one person can accomplish all that we have planned for the French Broad. The American Heritage River Initiative gives us the umbrella under which we can continue to build our plans and development of the French Broad River. It helps us unravel the maze of Federal grants and technical assistance opportunities and will give us access to programs that we now don't even know exists.
The Federal Government is big, and often finding the right assistance is difficult. The idea of our own river navigator is exciting to us. It would help us develop and sustain our great river, which brings me to my final point.
We, as our committee, have passed a resolution supporting the American Heritage River Initiative because it is nonregulatory and will not cause an increase in the Federal budget. Rather, it will focus resources on our plan of action. It would give an umbrella under which to work. The initiative will force the Federal Government to be responsive to our plan of action for our river. We have taken this promise to a new level, and I want to read that. We passed a resolution.
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC ''We are pursuing the nomination''this is our committee's resolution; we have passed this unanimously at our last meeting. ''We are pursuing the nomination of the French Broad River as an American Heritage River. Our initial plan with other aspects calls for a greenway along the entire length of the French Broad River corridor through Transylvania County, North Carolina, to Knox County, Tennessee, which would be interpreted with public historic markers.''
In pursuit of this greenway and the American Heritage River status, we pledge individually and collectively that no property will be condemned, no property owner will be coerced, and that all participation in the greenway voluntary, with all due regard for individual property rights. We understand our statement and code of conduct is in complete compliance with the stated objectives, goals, and the American Heritage River Initiative Program, as outlined in the Federal Register.
I ask your help for our region to continue to grow and prosper by allowing the American Heritage River Initiative to continue and to vote against the bill H.R. 1842. I also ask that you rethink the timing of this legislation. It might be best to allow this initiative to continue and to look at the results in a year. I think Mr. Schaffer made that suggestion also, to come back in a year.
In fact, if our river is named, I would like to personally invite each of the Committee to visit the French Broad in January 1999, after we have had Federal assistance for one year, and let's look together at the results. I'm convinced that this will be a good program for our river and other rivers chosen throughout the country.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Young may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Commissioner, and before you leave
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOUNG. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. [continuing] I do have a couple of questions.
Mr. YOUNG. Please go ahead.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. In your statement you note the strong support for the French Broad designation, but the Committee has received letters of opposition to this designation from State Senator Bob Carpenter of Franklin, North Carolina; from the Southern Appalachian Multiple Use Council; and the TS Hardwoods, Inc. Were you aware of this opposition?
Mr. YOUNG. Well, Bob Carpenter's district is not in our river basin, but that would nothe's not a senator for any of the counties that are involved in this, and I had not heard of the others.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. I wanted to further elaborate on your testimony by asking you, because this program is described as voluntary, and many property owners believe they should only be included in a particular river heritage designation, if they give written permission to do so, would you support such a provision to this, too?
Mr. YOUNG. That they would not be included unless there was
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Unless there was written permission to do so.
Mr. YOUNG. You know, that's an interesting question, in that the idea of them agreeing to be a part of it, I think if we're going to do a greenway, which is one of the things we've talked about for what our plan is, and they don't want to be a part of that greenway or have the greenway on their property, they ought to be able to opt out of that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So you will support the provision, then, that anyone who doesn't mind being included in it would give written permission to be included?
Mr. YOUNG. Well, when you start talking about trying to get written permission from every property owner, I think that addsit makes it very difficult. But, you know, you cannotif our plan is to do a greenway, we cannot do it without the property owner's consent to do that.
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. So, then, you would agree that
Mr. YOUNG. Well, if you're asking, will I agree that before we get the designation, we get all the property owners to agree, no, I don't think that would be fair. If you say that
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Oh, no, that's not my question. I'm not asking they agree with each other. I'm only asking if you would agree that they should give written permission to be included in a river designation.
Mr. YOUNG. Before we get the designation?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Before?
Mr. YOUNG. I don't know. I could not agree to that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. OK, then, as it's proposed?
Mr. YOUNG. As what's proposed?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The designation.
Mr. YOUNG. I'm sorry, say that one more time.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. As it's proposed, which it seems to beit seems to be proposed in Asheville and around that area.
Mr. YOUNG. Right.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So at this point in time, would you agree, then, that there should be written permission from the property owners to be included?
Mr. YOUNG. Well, like I said, I don't think beforewe have a December deadline. I think it would be impossible for us to get written permission from every property owner before we got after the designation. If, in fact, we do a greenway, we have to have their consent and knowI've stated our committee passed a resolution saying that we would not look at anybodywe would not do a taking of anybody's land or coerce anybody to give up their land. So, in effect, they would have to agree to be a part of the greenway.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. OK. All right, with that, we'll let you catch your plane
Mr. YOUNG. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. [continuing] and thank you for your patience in this long day.
Mr. YOUNG. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The Chair now recognizes Mr. Ross.
STATEMENT OF GORDON ROSS, COOS COUNTY COMMISSIONER, COOS COUNTY, OREGON
Mr. ROSS. Chairman Chenoweth, Coos County is protective of all its rivers and streams, just as we're protective of all our constituentsour landowners and those who farm along those rivers, and those who have timber holdings in those watersheds. What we've done in Coos County is quite unique, although it should not be, because how we started with our watershed associationsand, incidentally, I've made copies of pictorials in a blue binder that you have before you of before and after. Sometimes it's hard to visualize why before and after is better, but if you read what was happening, you can, I think, see that.
We began on two of our streams in the Coos Bay area with a coordinated resource management plan, which is something's that's been available to anyone in the United States for over 40 years. In fact, it was, I believe, clear back in the Roosevelt era that the Agricultural Adjustment Act include the conservation plans and the opportunity for coordinated resource management programs within your community. At the present time, at the Federal level there are Memorandums of Understanding between all resource agencies. At the State level of every State in the Nation there are also signed Memorandums of Understanding between the resource agencies at the State level and at the community level.
So every community that has a soil and water conservation district made up of local landowners who are elected by the people, not just by landowners, but by all the people in the county, has this opportunity to go to the soil and water conservation district in that the technical expertise of the Soil Conservation Service, now called the Resource Conservation Service, for a coordinated resource management plan in their community. The landowners, whether it's a full watershed or just a short area, a small area, can get the assistance of all the agencies to improve their streams or to improve their watersheds, or whatever the need may be. And this voted on congressionally. This is something that's here and is available to every community in America.
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to say that Coos County is one of the most favored counties in America, I believe, and for some of the reasons I mentioned in my testimony here: Seventy percent of our land is privately owned. We have no Scenic River designations. We have no congressionally withdrawn Wilderness Areas in our county. We have consistently, since 1855, harvested more timber than any county in the State of Oregon, and that's because we're on the only deep-water port on the coast of Oregon, other than Astoria at the northern end.
We built San Francisco from the days of the Forty-niners until she burned in 1906, and we rebuilt it after that up until 1920. And this has been the largest lumber shipping port in the world for most of my lifetime and for decades before that, and yet we have more Coho salmon spotting per mile than any county on the coast, on the West Coast, and we also have more coho salmon than all the other counties in Oregon combinedand that during a period of time when we harvest more timber than any other county in Oregon.
This seems to defy conventional wisdom, but we also have watershed associations partnering with up to 75 percent of the landowners in the Coos Basin and a good number in the Coquille River Basin. And the private landownersthis is a bottom-up, nonregulatory approach. We have heard that today quite a few times. I can tell you in Coos County it is.
And I want to say that, with the exception of our Federal partners, this has worked very well. And I want to say also that, in defense of our Federal partners on the local level, it has worked very well with them also. It's been above that that things begin to bog downI think maybe partly because people in the Federal Government don't understand the ecosystems that we have on the coast are the Douglas fir region, and our andramous streams are a result of disturbancesforest fire and flood, now logging and floodand these disturbance-based ecosystems, we understand now, are the reason for our tremendous response in Coho salmon and in the timber industry.
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I see the light is coming on. I just want to say that we've had a lot of great cooperation with our landowners, but when it comes to our Federal partners, their interpretation of the Food and Security Act, the Clean Water Act, and wetland regulations have been a constant impediment to getting through the permit process in order to do Coho habitat enhancement with, for instance, projects ranging from side-rearing ponds to taking sediment out of the streams in order to allow for Coho enhancement have been viewed as wetland violations, and one of our best cooperators was even charged with discharging pollutants into the waters of the United States. He had taken sediment out of his ditch from a previous storm and placed it on his farmland, and that was the charge.
In conclusion, I wish to say that the bottoms-up, nonregulatory, cooperative approach to enlist the efforts of every private landowner can and does accomplish far more than the Federal presence in our communities. I believe it was the Fiddler on the Roofin the Fiddler on the Roof where someone asked the rabbi, ''Is there a proper blessing for the czar?'' And he said, ''Yes, God bless the czar and keep him far, far from us.''
Mr. ROSS. Thank you, Madam Chair.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ross may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Ross, and Mr. Schaffer and I both have reviewed this. It's very, very good. Thank you for providing it to us.
The Chair now recognizes my friend from Idaho, Mr. Bill DeVeny.
STATEMENT OF BILL DeVENY, IDAHO FARM BUREAU FEDERATION, BOISE, IDAHO
Mr. DEVENY. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, members of the Committee, and visitors. Thank you for the opportunity to present these comments.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My name is Bill DeVeny. I am a rancher from Riggins in central Idahomaybe I should say west central Idaho. I am speaking on behalf of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, representing 47,000 member families, and also on behalf of myself. My testimony is in support of H.R. 1842, to terminate further development and implication of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
One contradiction follows another in the initiative. Creating another layer of government cannot possibly make existing government agencies function more efficiently. Allowing nongovernmental organizations to coordinate delivery of Federal services, as stated in the initiative, is a lot like having the fox guard the chicken house. These nongovernmental organizations, NGO's, as they are often called, have no respect for the heritage of the American West. Most of them are bound and determined to eliminate every aspect of the heritage of the West.
Ours is a heritage for trappers of furs, then miners, followed by grazers and farmers; next, loggers, and more recently, recreationists. Trappers are virtually extinct, and the NGO's are the very ones attempting to send the rest of us the same way.
The initiative usurps State powers and ignores constitutional provisions. Water is the lifeblood of Idaho, so the way it is managed and used is a concern to all of us in Idaho. This initiative circumvents the right of States to manage and control water, which is clearly a right of each of us in the State.
Another concern I have is that there is no constitutional authority for the Federal Government to become involved in the issue of water. The Constitution enumerates the powers granted to the Federal Government and reserves to all others the States or to the individuals.
This initiative is duplication of efforts between other Federal agenciesfor example, the Rural Development Councils. In some cases, the initiative appears to be in violation of existing law such as NEPA.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This initiative circumvents the authority of Congress and vests authority in yet another bureaucracy. It introduces another layer which we do not need. Agencies have become the fourth arm of government, and this is detrimental. We need less bureaucracy, not more.
From personal experience, about two weeks before this hearing, I was contacted by two Federal employees wanting to come on my private property to make a stream-side survey to see what kind of fish and habitat are in a very small stream that crosses my private property. When questioned why they wanted to make the survey, the employees would not say, nor would they tell me by what authority they were coming on my property. And last of all, they were not willing to provide me with a copy of their survey data or any of the results.
From experience, I am very certain that whatever they might do with the information would not be to my benefit and would be detrimental to my interest, as well as that as to the general public in the long run. This is just an example of the increased intrusiveness of the government that will be created by the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Knowing Federal agencies like I doand I have for 50 yearstheir help does not have to be helpful or even be nice. When the prospect of grant money is added, local units of government have a hard time saying no. Several years ago, I was asked to testify at the Idaho Association of Counties concerning some of the heritage legislation that was being proposed by Congressman Udall. Earlier versions had been rejected or ignored, but when the counties were promised a share of the money, many county commissioners had a hard time saying no. They were not interested in the heritage areas. They knew very little about them in most cases, but they were definitely interested in the pork. They were willing to accept the money regardless of the consequences, but, fortunately, there was enough commissioners present who could see the down side that the group voted to reject the proposal.
This country was founded on several important principles, not the least of which is the right to own private property. One of the primary reasons many immigrants come to this country is the right to own and control land outright. This initiative is just another chink in taking away private property rights and a step toward Federal land use control. I know of no instance where the government does a better job in the long run for managing property than property owners themselves. We need less government control, not more. So I encourage you to do whatever is in your power to curtail this initiative. Withholding funding is certainly a step in the right direction.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In summary, we do not want another Federal designation, a greater Federal presence, enhanced Federal control over our waters, and we do not want the government to come up with yet another way to spend our taxpayer dollars. Additional detail is provided in my written testimony, and I thank you for the opportunity to present my comments.
[The prepared statement of Mr. DeVeny may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. DeVeny. I appreciate your good testimony.
Mr. Ealy, we'd like to hear from you.
STATEMENT OF DAVID ALLAN EALY, PERRYSVILLE, INDIANA
Mr. EALY. Hello, Madam Chairman. I'm from Indiana, for those who don't know me here, and I live along the Wabash River. I am not a part of any group or organization. The grassroots kind of nominated me to come and speak to you because they felt I could answer your questions.
I've heard a lot of comments today, and I'm going to direct my time at some of those. First off, in Indiana they talk about this thing being a bottom-up. The National Park Service is who is behind getting this initiative started in Indiana, and we have fought them all along. They took the proposal for the American Heritage River to a little environmental group called Banks of the Wabash, and when we found out about their meeting on June 30, about 40, 50 farmers showed up, and they realized it wasn't a good idea to take a vote at that point, they passed the initiative on to a non-elected State commission. We already have an Indiana State program that is more advanced and more aggressive than what they're proposing at the Federal level from the White House.
Anyway, this Wabash Commission then had a meeting and decided that they really didn't have the authority to deal with this. So they decided to pass it back to the county commissioners and try to get their approval to move forward by July 16. That didn't happen. The county commissioners either said no or they were silent. So then what happened, the Wabash Commission decided to make themselves the river, and they scheduled three public meetings, and the advertised purpose of those meetings was to solicit public input. But no public input was allowed.
Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What we were given was a 50-minute presentation by officials, including the Federal Government. It was a sales pitch, primarily, I think, for the media to absorb. And then if we wanted to, we could ask questions for 10 minutes about the presentation, but we were allowed no input. There was no give-and-take; there was no opposing viewpoints allowed.
They were very vague initially as to what was going to be involved in this as far as the amount of land. At the Lafayette meeting they were also very vague about these new regulations and things, again claiming, as we've heard today, that there would be no mandates, no new regulations. Finally, a farmer asked a question: ''You mean to tell me you're just going to hand us all this money with no strings attached?'' And the Federal official said, ''Well, of course there will be strings attached.'' Now that kind of tells us folks in Indiana that there's going to be some regulations. Incidentally, that statement's on this tape and I'll put that in as one of my exhibits.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. EALY. Thank you. Down at Vincenze, the question had come up at Lafayette as to how much land would be involved, and they got very vague at Lafayette, but they were specific at Vincenze, and they decided that they would take all of the lands of these 19 counties, which is about 4 million acres in the initial application. Now this appointed commission has no authority over the lands or the Wabash River. They're there just to promote the historical, cultural, get people to work together, that type of thing.
As a result of that, the county commissioners have realized that, hey, this thing is serious; these people are talking about extending their authority well beyond anything that was ever given to them by the Indiana legislature, and since that meeting 10 counties have issued letters telling their commissioners to vote against this thing, when it comes up on October 1; 7 counties have said we're withdrawing from the State designation, so that they cannot include our county in the Federal designation. We'll have three more by the end of the week.
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Where this is coming from is the original language that came out for this was they were going to restore and protect rivers. Well, restore to what and protect from what? And what are they going to measure this and how are they going to accomplish it?
They talked about incorporating sustainable development. That raised a lot of eyebrows right away in our country, and then with the Federal official talking about there would be strings attached, people started getting real understanding that what they were talking about was creating out of thin air a new level of government, a regional planning authority that would be a Federal authority and it would consist of this Wabash Commission; it would consist of 12 or 13 or 14 Federal agencies. There would be a river navigator involved, and there would be at least one Federal board involved. And our county officials looked at this as an unfunded mandate that was going to potentially come down on them and on the State, and of course it affects the Congress as well.
The newest stuff is calling for a clearly defined plan of action, and before a legislative services committee a couple of weeks ago, the Federal official held up this and said: ''You're a plum. The Wabash is a plum because you already this State designation, and you already have a clearly defined plan of action.''
Well, this clearly defined plan of action is a warmed-over version of our wetlands bill which was rejected by our legislature. It has not been approved by our legislature or any county government. It includes things like creating a 510-mile-long greenway, stopping all agricultural runoff into the Wabash watershed; transfer taxes; environmental courtsall of these types of things, which is a part of the more advanced environmental agenda, which of course is not going to get through our State legislature, but this could end up being implemented as the voluntary plan through our river community, this Wabash Commission, and we could end up in court trying to fight Federal officials from implementing this or helping them implement it. So that's why the counties are opting out. They don't want to be any part of that.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When we got really pushy down at Vincenze and it looked like we brought this up, I explained to them that these counties could opt out. The Federal official said, well, if the commission doesn't vote for this, we'll see if we can get a nomination from a lions club or a church. So this idea of a community literally is anything; there's no definition of it.
And it is only the community who can withdraw. I, as an individual, if I don't file the application and if the community doesn't write some kind of rules for me to get out of it, I'm stuck with it.
Thank you. I support H.R. 1842.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ealy may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DEVENY. I'm glad you made that clear.
Mr. EALY. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I am very glad to know that.
Mr. Ealy, I also wonder if you might introduce your son. I've noticed that he's been sitting here through hours and hours of testimony.
Mr. EALY. Well, I have three sons.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You have three sons? They have been remarkable in this hearing.
Mr. EALY. I have Brian over here. He's taking notes for his journalism class.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Brian.
Mr. EALY. Benjamin is behind me, and Patrick is in front of him.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. That is great. They are very, very fine young men.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Applause.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And you are teaching them well.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Madam Chairman, if I may?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Schaffer?
Mr. SCHAFFER. I was commenting to those youngsters back there a little earlier that their behavior during the hours they've sat here is far superior to that of Members of Congress on the House floor today.
Mr. EALY. I have been impressed.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And even here, Mr. Schaffer. They stuck it out, and it's just you and me, Tonto.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So you are to be commended, and your sons are to be commended.
Carol LaGrasse, it is so good to see you again, and welcome. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF CAROL LaGRASSE, PROPERTY RIGHTS FOUNDATION OF AMERICA, STONY CREEK, NEW YORK
Ms. LAGRASSE. Thank you, Mrs. Chenoweth. Thank you for the honor of testifying today.
My name is Carol LaGrasse. I'm the president of the Property Rights Foundation of America in Stony Creek, New York. That organization is a grassroots, nationwide organization dedicated to preserving, in all its fullness, the fundamental human right to own private property, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
I'm a retired Stony Creek elected councilman and also a retired civil and environmental engineer. For the past 4 years, I have been studying the National, or American, Heritage Areas (or Corridors) and exposing the grandiose scope of this program and its implications for private property rights and local representative government. Now the President has pronounced the American Heritage Rivers program.
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Around the countryside where I live in upstate New York or down in New York City or on Long Island, where I originally hail from, no one has told me that they're looking for an American Rivers Heritage Program or for any element of the program, as defined in any of the written documents. And on the other side of the coin, many people have called the Property Rights Foundation of America from the States of Washington and California, to the midwestern States of Indiana and Minnesota, to the eastern States of Maine and Virginia, and many more, for help to block the program.
The American Heritage Rivers program is of great national concern. Because of the widespread fear, I've been invited to speak numerous times about the American Heritage Rivers program on Radio and TV talk shows, and have in fact received more requests to speak about this topic than any other topic during the year.
After 3 years of successful grassroots private property rights opposition to the National, or American, Heritage Areas program in Congress, the Clinton Administration has pronounced this, a very similar, but more ambitious, in my estimation, program unilaterally through the rulemaking or Executive Order process. Of course, everybody knew that, no matter how much the wording was watered down in the American Heritage Areas program, it was designed to bring the National Park Service into local zoning and to transfer land ownership to government. This is the mentality and future people are afraid of, and I am not ashamed to use the word ''fear.''
Now I have to add some remarks about New York and get to the home territory because there were some statements which I think were misleading today. In New York's Hudson Valley, contrary to the impression left by Mr. Babbitt, Mr. Hinchey, and Mr. Miller at the July 15th congressional hearing, there is widespread opposition still remaining to the National Heritage Areas Program. People still don't like it in connection with the Hudson River Valley designation, however successfully it's been completed. And I've attached to the testimony two items that demonstrate the continuing opposition.
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The first is a statement by one of the active local citizens' groups, the Coxsackie Awareness Group, which was printed in the New York Property Rights Clearinghouse published by this organization, and explains that the local people oppose the program as another potential infringement on their private property rights.
Now this group which authored the letter that we published had gotten started because it successfully defeated a local town zoning program that came down over a period of 25 years from the passage by Congress of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act.
The second item I'm enclosing is a recent letter to the editor by a Hyde Park resident in opposition to me personally and the Property Rights Foundation. The writer mentions a meeting that was a forum by the Columbia County Planning Department, where I was one of six speakers. The other five were government speakers in support of the Hudson Valley National Heritage Area being completed. You may recall that the Solomon portion was left out, and it was later added.
There was $10 million in pork barrel that was concerning these speakers, as well as the environmentalists who were included in the six. The writer of this letter states that his group needs Federal funding because of the problem, as he calls it, to him, and now I quote, ''The majority of the standing-room only audience appeared to be supportive of her'' [meaning Carol LaGrasse's] views.''
Now, the Council on Environmental Quality has represented the American Heritage Rivers Program as an honor and ombudsman. I'd just like to make the statement that, at most, the honor is a very minor feature of the program. Neither is the ombudsman an adequate explanation, as Ms. McGinty has said repeatedly.
There are no proposed rules applying to any of these agencies describing how they could possibly be expediting processes or relaxing enforcement. Those are to me the two elements of an ombudsman. Neither one is ever elucidated.
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Today there was some testimony from the Honorable Congressman from Pennsylvania that in the Northeast there is a need for this program because our rivers are deteriorating. Well, the truth of the matter is that in the State of New York the Hudson River, which will be considered, including the Champlain Valley all the way to the Montreal border (if you want to go into the Jeffords plan), the Hudson River Valley was once very heavily farmed and industrialized. The shores were punctuated by wharves and all sorts of industries, but now it's grown up in forests, and it certainly doesn't need to be restored to any kind of a natural heritage that's maybe pre-colonial. It's really changed quite a lot in the recent 50 years.
Another remark was made that the myriad of local planning departments in states like Pennsylvaniaand New York which is a very similar state in its governmental structurearen't ''professional''; local government isn't ''professional'' enough. Well, we have very professional planners in New York, and where we don't have them on staff as government-appointed officials, we're required to hire them as very expensive consultants. So we really are very adequately professionalized in our government, even dismayingly so.
The heart of each application for designation is a very elaborately stated planning plan for the future of the entire river and the land along it. That's the point of concern. The confusing description of the program seems to denote some kind of a plan to coordinate a number of important, powerful Federal agencies under a new national commission established for the purposes of the program at each designated river, in order to meet a plan of action to protect the river, which is nebulously defined as a ''community'', and apparently this is being worked out in conjunction with the Federal Government to define this community and this plan.
Now a federally appointed ''riverkeeper,'' as you know, for each American Heritage River coordinates with the community and all of these Federal agencies. It seems to me that a plan, judging by how planning takes place in this nation these days, a plan for each river is presumably one that will further restrict the use of land and water to protect nature and someone's idea of historical importance.
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now this new body, the American Heritage Rivers Interagency Committee, includes the heads of 12 agencies, as you know, from the Defense Department to the National Endowment for the Humanities. The primary agenciesthe Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Corps of Engineersare ones that are historically trampling on private property rights. So it seems to me that this program of more efficient coordination of Federal enforcement agencies sounds like a juggernautthe opposite of an ombudsman.
In my estimation, the practical meaning and future of the American Heritage Rivers program is to likely pan out something like this: The planning process will be led by Federal agencies and preservation groups which are hostile to private property rights and will be dominated by professionals, environmentalists, economic development types who are experts in the government gravy train who will go the rounds in each river area. Over the years, even 5 to 20 years, of quasi-voluntary partnership programs and mandatory programs of varying nature around the U.S.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mrs. LaGrasse, would you be able to
Ms. LAGRASSE. Oh, I'm sorry, I should be done, and I am done.
Anyway, it will pan out in that way, with all of these planning programs, and there will be stumbling blocks to local government as responsive to the local populations and problems for private property owners.
I would just like to say that the Property Rights Foundation of America obviously supports your bill, and appreciates your bill, and appreciates the opportunity to testify today.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And we appreciate your being here, too. Thank you very much.
Page 147 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And the Chair recognizes Mr. Schaffer for questions.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Commissioner Ross, looking through the watershed projects in Coos County and some of the other projects that you mentioned, I just have a pretty simple question. In contrast to the statements by some who believe that the only way you can engage in water-related projects, river projects, is with the Heritage Rivers Initiative, I just want to know, how did you get all this done without the Federal Government and without the Heritage Rivers Initiative?
Mr. ROSS. We would have gotten farther without them.
Mr. ROSS. Excuse me. Mr. Schaffer, Madam Chair, I started with a small group of foresters and fishermen. We call ourselves the Coquille Forestry and Fishery Alliance, and we were looking at ways to solve the problems that some people felt were opposed to each other, and there are still people that try to drive wedges between our resource users in Coos County, but we brought these resource users together, and we did it years ago. Different programs that began in Coos County, the Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program, the Adopt-a-Streamthese all started in Coos County with people that are interested in fisheries and the resource issues that are very near and dear to us there. And so we've been able to work with the farmers, with the loggers, and with the fishermen. Our loggers all fish, too. Our farmers fish. And our fishermen appreciate the efforts that the other industries, the resource industries, have come together to help what is their livelihoodour commercial fishing industry as well as our sport fisheries.
So I guess we've just been lucky that people have enjoyed working together, and we've had some good leadership at different times. Different people in the community spearheaded these. It's hard to define where it started, but it started with individual people. It didn't start with a government person. It started with people in the community that saw a need and spearheaded something, and then got the resources together.
Page 148 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHAFFER. You are not the reason the Federal Government believes we need to have a Federal agent coordinate these projects?
Mr. ROSS. Pardon?
Mr. SCHAFFER. So you are not the reason, then, that the Federal Government believes that it needs a Federal employee to coordinate these projects?
Mr. ROSS. I hope I'm not the reason.
Mr. SCHAFFER. OK.
Mr. ROSS. I'd get recalled at home.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Schaffer.
I wanted to ask Mr. DeVeny, did you let the Federal agents on your property
Mr. DEVENY. No.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. [continuing] to survey the stream?
Mr. DEVENY. Yes, Madam Chairman, I did notI had a little discussion with one of them the next morning, and when he was telling me what he wasor how he was going to use it, and so I said, no; I said, ''I just can't let you do it.'' So he said, ''OK, we won't look at you, but we'll go up above you,'' which is Federal land. It is Forest Service, and it is a long, long, hard walk around on either side.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And could you also repeat for me, very quickly, what the response was in Louiston with regards to this designation?
Mr. DEVENY. Which designation?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative. Was there an invitation?
Page 149 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DEVENY. No, there was not. I was not present, Madam Chairman, but from what I hear from the locals, no, there was no sympathy whatsoever for it.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Ross, in your written testimony you state that one of your cooperating landowners was charged with discharging pollutants into the waters of the United States. What exactly was that, and what was that it he supposedly discharged? What did he do? And how serious was this charge?
Mr. ROSS. Madam Chair, he was part of one of our coordinated resource management programs for Larson Inlet. He's a dairyman on Larson Inlet. He's a fellow that loves to fish and loves to do things for the fish, and part of the program had come up with the need to take the sediment out of Larson Inlet, and he had been waiting for 2 years to get through the permit system, and then we had a big storm and it justhe just finally concluded that he and fish, neither one, could wait for a permit from the Corps of Engineers, and he dug the whole thing out, and it was turned over to the EPA, and they charged him with discharging pollutants into the waters of the United States.
Now we thought he took the pollutants out of the waters. This confused us. But the waters was his farmland, you see, because this might be jurisdictional wetland, and none of us qualify there for a prior converted farmland. So what we have is wetland pasture.
And the pollutant was the material coming out. Now the interesting thingand I explained it to the EPA before and we did get them to turn it back over to local resource people to work with him to mitigate this horrible offense, which did everything a world of good, the fish included. I explained to him it would be an interesting prospect to go before a Federal judge and have one of your people on the witness stand and come with two buckets of dirt, and have you identify which one of them is the waters of the United States and which one's the pollutant, because they'd be exactly alike. Both are erosion from the very same watershed. One formed the land over the years, and the other is what stuck in the creek that year and took out and put on the land.
Page 150 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But this is a serious offense. This person in Meyersville, Pennsylvania a few years back that was an immigrant from Poland, he was charged with this same thing because, after years of working as a mechanic, he was able to realize the great American dream, and he bought a garage and a wrecking yard, and he got rid of all the wrecked automobiles, and in an EPA-approved manner, got rid of a whole stack of tires, and he went into the garage business for himself, and he put up a sign that said: ''Fill dirt wanted.'' Well, while the tires were there, they had plugged up a culvert and a couple of skunk cabbages had grown. So he was arrested also for polluting, for polluting the waters of the United States, and he served 3 years in a Federal penitentiary, and was fined $206,000. And I met his daughter a few years ago on the steps of the Capitol in a fly in for freedom back here; she was trying to get her father out, and I had read about this in the Reader's Digest already. So I knew what
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And what
Mr. ROSS. This person had a very serious charge, and we worked to get that turned back to the local people and the local Corps of Engineers, to work with him on some side-rearing ponds and do some mitigation, and get out from under this, or I'd have had a neighbor in the Federal penitentiary probably by today.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. That was John Pasquis? Was that John Pasquis or was that
Mr. ROSS. No, the personoh, I think that's the name of the person from Meyersville. I believe that was his name.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Yes, he was one of my clients, and he was a Hungarian immigrant, a freedom fighter who waswho had an admirable reputation as being a freedom fighter from Hungary, and escaped to America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, and this is how we treated him. I could spend all evening on this case, but, anyway, thank you very much.
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, Mr. Ealy, I wanted to ask you, what has been the response of the Indiana State legislature in the designating of the Wabash River in the American Heritage Rivers Initiative?
Mr. EALY. Our legislature right now is out of session. So what we hear from them we hear over the telephone or in different meetings. Some of them are saying they've looked at the Kentucky resolution and they want to put something like that in Indiana law, which forbids anyone from seeking something like the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, because that properly is within the jurisdiction of the State legislature. If the Indiana people wish a designation like that, they should petition the State legislature.
An interesting response was the original representative who actually wrote the bill that created this. He happens to be my representative. He's a Democrat. He went before the Legislative Services Committee a week or two ago and asked them to put out an immediate letter, even though they were out of session, telling the county commissioners to oppose it. He also lambasted, opposed, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. He also lambasted the commissioners who where there, including the president of the commission, and explained to them that we had concerns when we established this State designation that it could impact property rights. We put protection within the law, within the code, to make sure that that never happened. We gave you no authority over land use or over the Wabash River. You are ignoring those protections. And when the legislature gets back in session, we're going to deal with that.
So we have bipartisan opposition in Indiana to this idea of a Federal designation or this commission exceeding their authority. I had another senator who said, if they do this, we'll sue them all the way to the Supreme Court. I'm not sure how he could do that, but that's what his comment was.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I alsoI might suggest from the Chair that they might also, as Congressmen, opt out for their districts of the program, as we did today for Idaho.
Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EALY. Now are you talking about State or Federal?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The Federal, the American Heritage
Mr. EALY. OK. At the Federal levelI was speaking of the Stateat the Federal level, we have two of our Congressmen who have come out vehemently opposed, and two who are somewhat opposed. So we need to work on them a little bit.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Good, good. Mrs. LaGrasse, you heard Lois Van Hoover talk about the same American Heritage Rivers Initiative Program being used in Canada. Have you heard about this, the Laquois River?
Ms. LAGRASSE. No, I haven't heard about it, I'm sorry.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. OK.
Ms. LAGRASSE. I can't comment on that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. Well, I want to thank the panel very much for your fine testimony and for your great patience today, and the Committee may have further questions for you in writing and I would appreciate if you could have your answers back to us in 3 weeks. Thank you very much.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The Chair now calls the final panel: Mr. David Bright, Sr., from Harrison, Arkansas; Mr. Peter Samuel from the Schuylkill River Greenway and Heritage Corridor in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania; Dan Blomquist, Montanans for Multiple Use, Kalispell, Montana; Linda Bourque Moss, Western Heritage Center, Billings, Montana, and Reginald William Nelson from Richmond, Virginia.
Would you remain standing and raise your right arm, please?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Bright, I wonder if you can open with testimony.
Page 153 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF DAVID L. BRIGHT, SR., HARRISON, ARKANSAS
Mr. BRIGHT. Yes, thank you, Madam Chairman. I submitted quite a bit of testimony, and some of it was the rage we felt for 25 years, and I'm not much of a writer, so I've done some more here to get it down to 5 minutes.
But, as I listened today, you had very good witnesses on the American Heritage Initiative. So what I'd rather talk about is how a Federal river worked for us.
And it was something that Mrs. Yturria said, and I hope I got that name right, but she said Washington had finally gotten it, she thought. And I would really have liked to have told her, they got ours 25 years ago. It was called the Buffalo River; it's now a national river, and it was the first national river.
And I'm hearing the same terms today that we heard back then. The Forest Service rangers come to our community church in about 1970 to explain this program to us, and they said they only needed about 50 foot up the bank for a national river. That's all they really needed. Nobody would be moved from their homes. Those were all rumors, you know, about taking land and stuff; that the benefits would far outweigh losing that river, because we were going to have tourists flooding in, and I'm hearing that same stuff today, and I just want to tell you how it works.
There's no old folksmy community is totally gone. All the people were moved off; the houses were burned or dozed down or hauled off. No old folks died on their place, like they said. In my community the park boundaries are probably three to five miles wide, not 50 foot, and I just wantI'm hearing this same stuff today.
And I want to mention about the partnerships. We've seen these same partnerships, Federal and State and NGO's, on the biosphere nomination. We've seen them on stream teams this year when they developed them in Arkansas, the same people, Federal and State and NGO's. We're seeing them nownow we're hearing abouton thispartnerships, and I'm going to tell you, Madam Chairman, to us it looks a lot more like gang activity than it does partnerships.
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There's no way to everand another thing we've heard here today, and we hear it on all of them, is customs and culture and heritage. Now let me tell you how they protected my community. We're talking about communities. I don't know what this community is because evidently you can be a community if you're a few people, and you can designate 200 miles of river. But I want you to remember what happened to my community, and they were going to help it, too, and it's gone.
My church house is now an eco-tour destination, and the cemetery where I buried my daughter is, likewise, an eco-tour destination. The cemetery, because of the Civil War graves of that era there, those people had lived on that land forever; the government patented those people that land. I guess we're supposed to believe the government giveth and the government taketh away, because that's what they did.
But if you come to my county, you'll see what tourism has done for it. We had a Dog Patch USA Park three miles from the Federal park. It's bankrupt and closed, and has been for years. It went bankrupt three or four times. It sits on our main drag, which is winding, two-lane, no-shoulder, scenic U.S. byway. So that's our highest traffic density.
And I just want you to come and look around my square. We have about 7,000 people, or thereabouts, in my county. Come walk around the square that was supposedsee if you see any highrise motels or any hiking store supplies. Come and look. The Federal Government parkI'm not aware of them hiring any locals, but they may, to haul trash off or something. They've taken 41,000 acres of our very best farmland, our bottom land. We've been exiled in our county to ridgetops and hillsides, and Madam Chairman, they're after it. They want the whole watershed, which is what we've got left on those ridgetops.
There's 197,000 acres also of forestland. We're under an ecosystem assessment, another partnership, by the Forest Service. This year they offered for sale 281 acres to cut for timber. Now I don't cut timber. I'm a real estate broker, but the southern part of my countyand my county coffers depend heavily on the Federal Government, and I believe it's their responsibility, when they have that much of our land base, to provide some jobs and opportunities for our people.
Page 155 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Deer School sits down on that forestland and they're losing kids. The population's going down. Those people are driving 60 miles to pluck chickens, people that used to work in the woods, and there's nothing wrong with plucking chickens; don't get me wrong. I mean, it's honest work, isn't it? But those people are moving out because they can, for what it costs them in gas and wear and tear on their vehicle, and the fact that they spend 4 hours a day driving away from their family to have a jobthey can make payments in Carroll County, and that's where they're doing that. And we're losing families.
Madam Chairman, they call this stuff ''honorary.'' I'm going to tell you, we've gotwe've had a sackful of honoraries. We've got two Wilderness Areas. We've got Scenic Trailways and Byways. Every stream that runs 3 months of the year is now a Wild and Scenic Riverway. We haveI'm going to tell you, we've had so many honors that we can hardly cope. If we get oneevery time we get an honor, we lose families and jobs, and we have had all the honors we need.
There is a bill up here, and I think it sits in your Committee, that mentions Newton County again by name. The last thing we want to do is you people up here to even know where we're at. You've found us so many times that, when you mention us by name, we go to shaking. We've got a little bit of people left, and we really just want to be left alone with the lands you've left us and just live. Is that possible any more in America? Can we own anything? Is there anything sacred that we can own that you can't take? An acre? A stream? Anything? You know, we've just had just too, too much honor.
And I'm begging youI support your bill, and I don't want you to think I'm one of those right-wing radicals, but there are many of my heroes that sits on this panel, and I want you to know that. And I appreciate the two that stayed all day; I really do. And we have some hope that maybe there will be some sensibility again because of these kind of bills, and H.R. 901, which we supported heavily, obviously, last year, that as an American ought to make everybody cringe and cry that we even need to introduce a bill like that, but, second, and even worse, that you can't get two-thirds of the people up here to vote for it. And we're watching H.R. 901 with some interest.
Page 156 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I know you're not here to talk about H.R. 901, but I wanted toI took my first plane trip to come here, and I wanted to throw my two cents in while I was here.
Mr. BRIGHT. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I appreciate that, Mr. Bright, and I appreciate your entering the tragic story about your community in the record. Thank you for being here and for waiting so long.
Mr. BRIGHT. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I forgotcould I enterwould you entertain entering this? This is the testimony and kind of stuff put together by a county judge, and he wanted you to know that the Park Service is not the best neighbors that we've ever seen. And he sent this up here with me, and if I could entertain you to enter what portions you want or take, and look it over, I would really appreciate that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Without objection, so ordered.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Bright.
The Chair recognizes Mr. Samuel.
STATEMENT OF PETER SAMUEL, SCHUYLKILL RIVER GREENWAY AND HERITAGE CORRIDOR, WYOMISSING, PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. SAMUEL. Thank you. I'm Peter Samuel. I'm the director of the Schuylkill River Greenway and Heritage Corridor, and on behalf of that group, its partners, and community organizations, I want to thank you and the members of this Committee for the opportunity to provide testimony in opposition to H.R. 1842.
We are opposed to H.R. 1842 because we believe the American Heritage River Initiative will provide opportunities and benefits to our region in southeastern Pennsylvania. The Schuylkill River Greenway Association is a membership organization which has been working with citizens and community groups and a host of other partners up and down the river for almost 25 years to promote the river resources and advocate their protection.
Page 157 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the 1990's we went through a process to develop a management action plan for the Schuylkill as a Heritage Corridor, and in 1995 the Schuylkill River Corridor was designated by Governor Tom Ridge as Pennsylvania's seventh State Heritage Park.
We in the Schuylkill watershed, including conservationists, elected officials, municipal governments, landowners, recreationalists, industry owners, and more, are very much interested in the American Heritage River Initiative because it will provide an excellent chance for the widest range of people to take new pride in their river. It will enable us to work with the Federal Government as a partner in efforts to improve and restore the resources associated with the Schuylkill.
The goal of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is to support communities within the existing laws and regulations by providing them with better information, tools, and resources, and by encouraging local efforts deserving of special recognition. This is precisely the kind of assistance the Schuylkill River Greenway Association needs. This will help people better understand how to access existing Federal resources.
Let me provide a little background on the Schuylkill River Valley. You heard about the Delaware River a little bit today. We are a close associate of the Delaware.
The Schuylkill River flows through some of the most historically significant land in the United States. The river itself extends 128 miles from the mining region of Schuylkill County through four other counties and into the city of Philadelphia, where it links up with the Delaware. It comprises three national parks, many acres of State park and gamelands, widespread residential development, agriculture, industrial towns, and private lands.
By the 1770's, Philadelphia had become the hub of America's revolutionary activity. It was the site of the First and Second Continental Congresses, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence. It was along the Schuylkill in the winter of 1778 that General Washington and his troops camped in Valley Forge, before the turning point in the Revolutionary War.
Page 158 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC By 1900, the use of anthracite coal from Schuylkill County to power industry caused a total transformation in the valley. During this period, the entire river valley functioned as an interlocking series of industrial engines, and Philadelphia became a national leader in industry. All this growth and development of communities and industries was not without consequence. By 1927, it was estimated that there was 38 million tons of coal silt in the river. The river was so polluted that it had essentially lost its value as a river. The canal system was no longer navigable. The drinking water had seriously been degraded.
The river has been making a slow comeback. In the 1970's, the Schuylkill River Greenway Association was formed to begin advocating the protection and health of the river and its tributaries. The Schuylkill was designated by the State legislature as Pennsylvania's first scenic river in 1978. After an extensive 3-year planning process which involved representatives from each of the five counties and the public and private sectors, the Schuylkill Heritage Corridor was designated as a Pennsylvania Heritage Area.
The Schuylkill River Greenway Association, which had many years of experience working with partners throughout the corridor, expanded its mission to include increasing recreational opportunities, conserving cultural and historic resources, encouraging regional cooperation, attracting tourism, and generating jobs and permanent economic benefits.
Since I became the director of the Schuylkill Corridor, I've realized that there are Federal agencies in our region which have programs that could provide assistance to our various communities. The Army Corps of Engineers has indicated an interest in transforming the de-silting basins into wetlands. The Environmental Protection Agency has funds for creating riparian buffers along the tributaries. The National Park Service can provide greenways and trail planning. Fish and Wildlife is interested in the development of fish ladders along the many dams, and there are probably many others.
My information about these potential programs has been haphazard, almost accidental, but if the Schuylkill River is designated as an American Heritage River, information about all these programs could be made available as a coordinated package of services. The Federal Government would begin to work for us. People have called for a better, smarter, more coordinated way to work with the Federal Government. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative seeks to coordinate these existing authorities in a more efficient and complementary way, and proposes that assistance from the government will come at the request of our community.
Page 159 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is no existing system to provide communities with a coordinated package of Federal services. In fact, there is so much lack of coordination, it is very possible that within one very small agency, such as the National Park Service, that more than one department or division could be involved with the same project, and they'd never know what the other is doing. If what is being proposed by the American Heritage Rivers Initiative comes to fruition, it will be a major advance for government.
I'm not talking about more government, not more regulations, not more interference. I'm talking about coordination, organization, and responsiveness. I'm talking about better government, ideal governmentone that is there when you want it and one that provides a coordinated strategy of services that will be truly helpful.
The American Heritage Rivers Initiative will allow for recognition of the contributions of ordinary people in the significant regions of our Nation. The Schuylkill Heritage Corridor provides a framework for all types of people to take pride in their community, understand their history, and work together to enhance the quality of life for their children. We are treating our history and heritage as one of our greatest resources. The American Heritage River Initiative will allow us to build on that and ensure that the present and future is successfully linked to our past.
Thank you. I would also like to provide for the record a letter from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and an attachment, if I might.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Samuel may be found at end of hearing.]
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. Samuel, I want to thank you for your testimony very much.
Page 160 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SAMUEL. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Blomquist, it is very good to see you again.
STATEMENT OF DAN BLOMQUIST, MONTANANS FOR MULTIPLE USE, KALISPELL, MONTANA
Mr. BLOMQUIST. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Welcome to Washington. We will entertain your testimony.
Mr. BLOMQUIST. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Yes, I'm president of Montanans for Multiple Use, a grassroots organization with five chapter groups spread throughout the State of Montana, and, yes, it's good to see you again. I remember the first time that I met you there up in Kalispell, where we were talking about forest access, and as I started to talk about my personal experience with forest accessand I'm going to do it again here in a secondI ended up crying about it, and you said, ''I wish that all of Congress could have seen that.'' Well, I thought this was where they were going to be.
Mr. BLOMQUIST. So it's bad that there is so many demands on other people's time today.
One of the first things that I want to bring up is that our county commissioners, both for Flathead County and Lincoln County, which is most of northwestern Montana, they cover an area of probably bigger than a couple of States back here. Both of them have unanimously signed resolutions that they do not want the American Heritage River; they don't want any part of it. If it's introduced, they will not participate. They will not allow it into their counties, and those are in the written record there. So I also know that they're working with other counties within the State of Montana to come up with the same thing.
Page 161 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I've rewritten this thing about 27 times today because I keep hearing just gross inaccuracies. Ms. McGinty, she makes lots of promises, but follows through, in my personal experience, on very, very few. She spoke at the Western States Coalition Summit Meeting in July 1997 in Spokane, Washington, and I'm going to have to paraphrase this a little bit, but she said something to the effect of she would like to trust people, but she can't always trust people to do the right thing. Well, apparently, she has reasons to believe this because she didn't follow through and do the right thing, and put into thethe promises made at that meeting, put them into the documentation in the final deal of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
She specifically said, and I asked her again todayI walked over here to the side of the room and asked herI says, ''In Spokane, you said that a private property owner could opt out of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative if they so desired.'' And she says, ''No, I said a community.'' And I says, ''No, you were specifically asked the question and you said that a private property owner could opt out of it.'' There's many other instances throughout there that she's done the same thing.
And I tried to explain to her that it's this kind of vagueness, this kind of saying one thing one time and doing something elseher response to me was, ''Well, it's our intentions to make government better.'' Give me a break. All your actions, everything that you've done has said exactly the opposite.
Now something that doesn't have anything to do with American Heritage Rivers, but it has to do with rivers and water qualitiesI have a book hereCongressman Hill has a copy of this, if you'd like to see it, and if you would like to have a copy, I will get it to you, if you will let me know about it. This is water quality money that was set aside to reduce sedimentation in the streams. This is full of pictures of what happened when the Federal Government got involved in removing culverts for the sake of closing roads on the Flathead National Forest. One stream, two culverts, 80 tons of sediment into the stream because of what they've done. That's one of the hazards you run into when you take moneys from one program that are set aside to do something and divert them over here to do something totally different. You run into these kind of problems. Now they have no money to fix it.
Page 162 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Blomquist, let me ask you, would you like that to be a part of the record?
Mr. BLOMQUIST. Yes, you can have it, sure.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. So ordered.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. BLOMQUIST. OK. We have onein fact, Ms. Moss will speak to this, and we have one river that's proposed for listing in Montana, Yellowstone River, and I had heard a lot of things about what the proposal was. So I asked her today specifically what it was, and it's to bring out the history of the river and have little sites along, kind of a walk-down-memory-lane. And surprisingly, I support that, but I do not and cannot support the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
This is a wayI don't think that she really understandsor not her personally, but the committee that's down therereally understands what happens when you start working with the Federal Government. I can't outdo Mr. Bright over here, but we've got the spotted grizzly bear; we've got the spotted gray wolf; we've got the spotted bull trout; we've got National Park Service; we've got 78 percent of our county is administered by the Federal Government, and we know what kind of partners they are, and it ain't the best ones in the world.
I would have the opportunity to come here today for a little different reason than what most people have had. We didn't have the money to come here. I didn't have it personally; my organization didn't have it. But when I was invited, I started asking people and organizations from all over the State of Montana. That was a very humbling thing for me to doto go around with my hand out and ask for donations to get here. And the response was just overwhelming.
And I always think of Isabelle Fratt, who called me and says, ''I'm so sick of what the Federal Government's been doing to us. I can't send much, but could I please have your address and send you $10 to help you get to Washington, DC?''
Page 163 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Excuse me. I'd better go back to reading something so I can get through this.
The gentleman from Pennsylvania said this morning that the Northeast has led the way in independence. Well, the ancestors from the Northeast moved to the West, looking for the same things: independence and liberty. And for 150 years, they've taken care of the places like Montana, so that they're still the last best place. We are still leading the way for freedom and liberty, and we don't want a river rammed through it.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Blomquist may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Blomquist. I appreciate your testimony. And can you give up another notebook for the record?
Mr. BLOMQUIST. Pardon?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Can you give up another notebook for the record, the exhibit there?
Mr. BLOMQUIST. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right, good. thank you.
And the Chair recognizes Linda Bourque Moss, and thank you for your patience, Ms. Moss. We welcome your testimony.
STATEMENT OF LYNDA BOURQUE MOSS, WESTERN HERITAGE CENTER, BILLINGS, MONTANA
Ms. MOSS. Thank you. Good evening, Madam Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is Lynda Bourque Moss and I am the director of the Western Heritage Center, a regional museum located in Billings, Montana. Founded in 1970, the Western Heritage Center is a museum dedicated to interpreting and reflecting Yellowstone River Valley life. I am here this evening to present the background of a regional project of the Western Heritage Center, the Yellowstone Heritage Partnership, and to relate our regional interest in support of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. I am here today with the encouragement of the Yellowstone County commissioners, the Western Heritage Center board of directors, and supporters of the Yellowstone Heritage Partnership. I'm just going to summarize my written statement for you.
Page 164 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Several years ago the Western Heritage Center began two projects: one called Our Place in the West, which was a long-term exhibit and oral history projects, and public programs, and publications that looked at living in the Yellowstone River Valley from the perspective of residents. We also embarked on another project called The Real West: Farming and Ranching Families of the Yellowstone Valley.
With both of those projects, we visited people. We were in kitchens and back yards of farmers and ranchers throughout the Yellowstone Valley, getting their sense of their history and perspective of this remarkable region. Many of those people were very interested in continuing this history project. We worked with small, local museums. We looked at their artifacts and collections, and saw that there was a remarkable wealth of information within the Yellowstone region. Out of this dialog, we saw that there was a need to develop a regional partnership, and in 1996 the Western Heritage Center became the lead organization for the Yellowstone Heritage Partnership.
For the Yellowstone Heritage Partnership, we focused on the Yellowstone region, which involves Montana, northern Wyoming, and western North Dakota. To begin building support, and the process to establish this partnership, we requested technical assistance from the RTCA program, which is with the National Park Service.
For that assistance, we enlisted the support of counties and all types of nonprofit organizations and museums throughout the Yellowstone Valley. We had over 40 letters of support for that application. One of my favorite letters came from McKensey County in North Dakota, and they even called me and said, ''We are so pleased that you're including us in this regional project. We've always felt that we are part of the Yellowstone Valley, and in western North Dakota oftentimes we go unnoticed.''
In January 1996, the Western Heritage formed an advisory council, and that was comprised of many individuals that sent in letters of support. And we have letters of support from that from county commissioners throughout this region.
Page 165 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Yellowstone Hertitage Partnership advisory council includes representatives from Federal, State, and local agencies, museums, colleges. The Crow and Northern Cheyenne communities have representation on our advisory council. Agriculture, recreation, and natural resource management organizations in Montana, northern Wyoming, and western North Dakota are involved. We have three appointees from each of the Governorsfrom the Governor of Wyoming, the Governor of Montana, and the Governor of North Dakota.
In February 1996, the advisory council formulated a vision statement. Our vision statement is this: ''The Yellowstone Heritage Partnership, working together to promote the Yellowstone River Valley: a place valued for its quality of life; communities that respect their region's natural and cultural heritage, and consider these in their developmental projects; a region with a sustainable economy that offers opportunities for growth and employment while managing change; and a people that cooperate through the free exchange of ideas and develop consensus.''
Since 1996, we've had many public meetings throughout the Yellowstone Valley. We've had meetings in Billings, in Colstrip, Lame Deer, Hardin, Crow Agency, in Livingston, Red Lodge, Joliet. We've had meetings in Williston, North Dakota, and in Sheridan, Wyoming, we had over 100 people attend a meeting.
We also worked with another organization who is a partner, the Yellowstone Center for Applied Economic Research, and that organization has conducted several focus group studies throughout the region, asking residents their perception of the region, the quality of life, resource use, and economic development. And one of those is cultural tourism.
And I'm going to read some of the statements from people from those meetings. This is from Bill Michaels. He's a sugarbeet farmer. He lives in Huntley, which is near Billings, and he's also on our advisory council.
He said, ''I could support any program that does not in any way diminish private property rights. My concern is agriculture and its future. Family farms are very important. It is my belief most rivers need some type of flood control and effort to diminish the destruction of timberland''he was talking about deer habitat''and productive farmlands. Strange how farmers and ranchers are not part of many of these programs.''
Page 166 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ivy Brubaker in Terry, MontanaIvy is probably 80 years old, and whenever I see her, she gives me a big hug. ''We think the State and county should have charge of our area. We are concerned for the farmers and ranchers, fishermen, and those with their fun boats.''
Dallas Johannsenthis is from a meeting in Hysham that I attended. He's the executive director of the Eastern Plains RC&D. We went through very intense discussion of the Yellowstone Heritage Partnership with many of their members, and Dallas commented, ''We need to begin to build trust as we look at these types of initiatives.''
Based on the public input through these methods, the Western Heritage Center identified the following projects and tasks as part of our partnership. One is to develop a traveling exhibit. That's called ''Explore the Yellowstone!'' and we're going to take that to fairs and pow-wows, rodeos, places where people gather, to begin talking to people about the Yellowstone region, sharing this wonderful history of this area.
We're conducting a regional economic study of cultural tourism in the Yellowstone region which will create information that is user-friendly, so all these organizations can be using the same data, as we talk about cultural tourism as one leg of the economy of the Yellowstone region.
We looked at the need to obtain what we called a circuit rider for the region or someone that could facilitate multi-agency coordination and collaboration, and also further expanding the support base of the partnership. At all of our advisory council meetings we have representation from our three congressional offices, and they have been very helpful in providing input from their perspective as well.
When the American Heritage Rivers Initiative was announced by President Clinton, the partnership began gathering information about the initiative. Many of the partnership members saw parallels between our regional initiative and the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. In May we received a consensus to continue to evaluate the initiative while conducting a regional survey to gather other information related to the initiative, and we submitted comments as part of that public review process.
Page 167 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our preliminary approach is based on information gathered from 17 surveys, and the strongest
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Ms. Moss, will you be able to wrap it up pretty soon?
Ms. MOSS. Oh, sure. I'm sorry. OK.
The strongest surveys, the projects look at the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, and the Yellowstone River Greenway.
While I was here today, two of my colleagues were meeting with the Montana Stockgrowers Association to talk about our plans for this initiative, and I will just conclude by stating something from Mike Penfill, the director of the Montana State Parks Association.
''We believe in community-based, citizen, grassroots action as the best way for people to secure a positive future for Montana. With that as the background, we are excited about the American Heritage River Initiative for the Yellowstone River in Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota.''
[The prepared statement of Ms. Moss may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you very much.
The Chair recognizes Mr. Nelson.
STATEMENT OF REGINALD WILLIAM NELSON, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA
Mr. NELSON. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I guess I'm the one you've been waiting for, being last on the list.
Mr. NELSON. No one will be happier than I when my time is up.
Page 168 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Mr. NELSON. I'm here today to support H.R. 1842. My name is Reginald Nelson, and I live at 1820 New Market Road in eastern Henrico County, which is just outside the city of Richmond.
Mr. DeVeny from Idaho could have written my testimony for me, and I could have changed the name and a few facts. I'm a full-time farmer also, and have experienced many of the same things that he has dealing with the Federal Government and bureaucrats.
The land that we farm is in sight of the James River, which has a watershed of over 10,000 square miles, as mentioned earlier. We've been farming most of this land for the past 75 years.
I have no business really being here today. This is the height of our harvest season, and time is very precious to us now. I'm spending 12 to 16 hours a day this time of the year, and I had a hard time explaining to my two young daughters yesterday why I had to come to Washington today to testify before this Committeeto protect our rights.
I elected representatives to Congress to protect my interest and my rights, not to be run over with Presidential Executive Orders in which Congress had no say. This seems to be dictatorial, not democratic.
In my testimony, you will see that I have stated that my Congressman is Thomas Bliley. He is the one who represents my interest. I live on the edge of the district, and technically live inmy Congressman is Mr. Scott.
As a farmer, I already know about excessive regulation. I comply and filecomply with and file a nutrient management plan, a Chesapeake Bay plan, an integrated pest management plan, record the pesticides which I use on my property, and at the same time have to comply with local land use regulation. And, yet, none of these regulations have changed the way my family has farmed this land over the years. We have been good stewards of the land since the beginning. My father and grandfather took care of it and taught me how to take care of it. We haven't needed the Federal Government to tell us how to farm. What has changed is the amount of time and the cost that it takes to report these things back to the Federal bureaucrats.
Page 169 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A question I have: If this initiative is truly voluntary and nonregulatory, why is there a Federal presence? Why will Federal agents be involved? Why? It's because there clearly will be additional regulations or policies placed on the property that has this designation. Is this going to mean that we're going to have more records and more reporting to do with more regulation?
We've dealt with some of these so-called partnerships over the years with the farm, and it seems to be a way to pass the buck. One agency tells us we need to see the next agency, and that agency tells us we need to go back to the first agency.
Another question I've got is where the funding comes from for these policies. If it's not going to cost any more and we don't have to hire any more people, what have these people been doing if they didn'tthey didn't have anything to do before now?
There are 12 agencies that have been identified to work with this initiative. FSA is one of those agencies, I believe, the Farm Service Agency, and many of the offices have been consolidated and closed recently due to budget cuts. They apparently don't have an excess amount of money to support these things.
What really irritates me more than anything is the fact that my Senators and my Representatives didn't have the opportunity to approve this Federal program, nor did they have a part in creating it. This initiative has been created with the rules yet to be established, it appears. The devil is in the details, and we haven't been given those details in advance of this program being written.
Now for years we were asked as farmers to sign up in the farm programs, where the rules and regulations were written sometimes after we signed up. This doesn't work; it never has worked; it never will work.
We have dealt within our neighborhood we have had a lot of problem with the National Park Service coming in and trying to overrun us with historic preservation. It appears that some of these bureaucrats must go to the same school and learn how to avoid answering questions, as we saw Ms. McGinty earlier. The question was asked if the Federalif the person could testify at a zoning board hearing. The National Park Service representative, superintendent of Richmond Battlefield Parks, stands up frequently at the board meetings and the zoning meetings in uniform and testifies. So it does happen.
Page 170 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Some years ago, we had the opportunity in the State to have a road, Route 5, voluntarily designated as a Scenic Byway. Nothing was done then except a few pretty signs were put up along the road stating this designation. Now we have a group of citizens in the area who are using this designation, trying to obtain a 1,300-foot setback off of Route 5 back onto our property. They're trying to stop development, and they want no further improvements to Route 5, saying it's an historic road. Well, farm equipment has become rather wide, and with the traffic we have on Route 5, if the road's not improved, we won't be able to continue to farm it, and then the development will come, and then the road will be improved.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Nelson, will you be able to wrap it up in the next minute or two?
Mr. NELSON. Yes, I will.
I am fortunate that my local jurisdiction, Henrico County, is in strong opposition to the designation and is preparing a letter to be sent to all of our congressional delegation stating and clarifying their opinion. I would like to provide a copy of that letter to this Committee to be attached to my testimony as soon as it is available.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Without objection, so ordered.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. NELSON. Again, I would just like to strongly support H.R. 1842, and thank you for your time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Nelson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Nelson. Being the daughter of a farmer, and knowing what farm life is like, I certainly understand. I understand your sacrifice today, and I understand the sacrifice of every single one of you who are here. I just want you to know there is a committee markup going on in the Commerce Committee and in ISTEA, and even as we speak, my staff is giving a major speech for methat there's a lot of times things have to go by the wayside. That pales in comparison to the sacrifice of all of you in coming here to offer your testimony.
Page 171 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And although there's just two of us here, remaining here, I want you to know that this becomes a part of the permanent record, part of the permanent congressional record that will last in the archives of the Library of Congress, and your contribution today will be referenced a lot and reviewed by many people. And so I just want to say, for my colleagues who can't be here, thank you so very, very much for coming.
I would like now to yield to Mr. Schaffer for any questions he might have.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
I like to think in terms of quality instead of quantity when it comes to Committee members here.
Mr. SCHAFFER. So I can assure you we're in good shape here.
I'd like to ask Mr. Samuelif this Heritage River Program continues to move forward as it is suggested by the Clinton Administration and you pursue ityou're in southwest Pennsylvania?
Mr. SAMUEL. Southeast.
Mr. SCHAFFER. That's right.
Mr. SAMUEL. Philadelphia's southeast.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Oh, you're in southeast, OK. You're in southeast Pennsylvania. What are your thoughts about this opt-out provision? You've heard the exchange between Ms. McGinty and I on who would establish the standards associated withthe terms of who would be opting out or not. She suggested that it's her intention to give quite a bit of authority to the local proposal, the organizing group. In your case, stating your desire to pursue the Heritage River Initiative on your particular river, do you plan on allowing property owners along the river to opt out of the program right at the beginning?
Mr. SAMUEL. I don't quite understand what opting out is going to do for someone. And the reason I say that is the Schuylkill has been designated a Heritage Corridor. That didn't do anything to landowners along the river, and you have to understand southeastern Pennsylvania, obviously, is very different from Idaho and many parts of the West. It's very densely populated. It's very heavily residential. We're talking about a lot of residents with small properties. We're not talking about a lot of large farmers or landowners.
Page 172 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I thinkyou know, there was some discussion earlier that perhaps everyone who's a landowner along the river should be surveyed and given the opportunity to opt out. I guess I don't understand, with the Schuylkill being a greenway, with the Schuylkill being a Heritage Corridor, with the Schuylkill being a designated Scenic River, what did that do to landowners that created any restrictions for them? And I also don't see the American Heritage Rivers Initiative imposing any restrictions on landowners.
So I don't understand truly why there's a real need for opting out, and I guess that'sexplain it to me: Whywhat there is to fear? I guess I'm not sure what's going to happen to landowners along the river that they need to opt out of something.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I'm less interested in explaining to you the fears that need to be associated with the Heritage River Initiative. As for me, I sat through quite a bit of scary testimony from others who have been affected by the Federal Government in various ways, but that's not really the point of my question. It is, though, presumably, you would be primarily involved in formulating the proposal and working with the community on drafting the proposal to the Federal Government to establish the Heritage River Initiative on the Schuylkill River, and I'm just trying to inquire, at least at this pointso much of this is speculative, even the rules and regulations and how they will eventually unfold. But from your perspective, do you envision allowing local property owners who live along the river, who own land along the river, to opt out in your proposal?
Mr. SAMUEL. Oh, I would say there certainly can be people who do not support it. I guess I don'tand I'm sorry that I was not clear, but I don't understand what opting-out means. I guess I can
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, it would meanlet's say Farmer Jones has a little farm, one of these little farms, you mentioned that's right along the banks of the Schuylkill River, and he hears that you're applying for the Heritage River Initiative and you want the designation, and he sends you a letter and says, ''You know, this might be fine for everybody else, but I would appreciate it if the boundary went around my property.'' Are you going to allow that. That's what that means.
Page 173 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SAMUEL. OK. I guess, again, my confusion is that I didn't see that there was any boundaries here. I mean, we already have a Schuylkill Heritage Corridor that has very, very mysterious unclarified boundaries, and it's really more a partnership among
Mr. SCHAFFER. OK, but I'm suggesting that Farmer Jones wants you to establish a boundary around his little farm on the banks of the river.
Mr. SAMUEL. Then I do not have a problem with that. That's the answer.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Do you anticipate that your proposal will allow for the opt-out provisions so the boundary can be drawn around his land?
Mr. SAMUEL. Yes.
Mr. SCHAFFER. You do?
Mr. SAMUEL. If there are boundaries drawn and someone needs to be outside of those boundariesI mean, I guess Iyou know, we're functioning on a model of
Mr. SCHAFFER. I'm not suggesting need; I'm suggesting desirethat he just wants to be outside the boundary.
Mr. SAMUEL. Yes, I mean, it seems like you're using a model of like a national park, where they draw a boundary around something and say, ''This is all now under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government,'' and I don't think that's what a Heritage Area or a Heritage River is about. There's not a firm boundary. It's a way of developing a partnership amongst interested people who are interested, in this case, in a river, in a river corridor. I don't see a hard boundary, but if we do draw a boundary and someone does not want to be in that boundary, then they have, certainly, the free will to be outside of it.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Well, that is encouraging. My time's up, so I'll stop. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Page 174 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Ms. Bourque Moss, I'd like to ask the same question of you that was posed to Mr. Samuel. Do you believe that people ought to give written permission before they are included in a designation under the American Heritage Rivers Initiative?
Ms. MOSS. As it stands now, we have a task force that's working on our proposal for the Yellowstone River as an American Heritage River. And based on the latest information from the Federal Register, it doesn't have to be the entire river, and that helps us considerably. We'll be looking at specific areas.
And the focus of our projects look at public places, at museums, at sites, whether they're national historic sites or parks, places that are in the public interest. So we won't be looking at private property at all. We are working with the Montana Stockgrowers Association and they have offered their assistance to work with us on this nomination, as we proceed to make sure that it meets the interest of that particular organization. We've always felt that it's important to be open with our project and our partnership and invite the views of many different groups of individuals and associations in this region, so that that dialog hasn't come up yet with our advisory council members; it certainly will. We have a meeting in October, and I'm sure that will be part of the discussion.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So, generally, what you are saying is that the property owners will not even be considered as being included?
Ms. MOSS. They're an important voice to the Yellowstone region. We aren't defining boundaries at this point.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. But if they want boundaries defined around their property, define them out of the project, would you support that?
Ms. MOSS. I think so. That would be fine with us.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you.
Page 175 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Blomquist?
Mr. BLOMQUIST. Yes, just for clarification here, I know the Montana Stockgrowers I've been talking with them, too, and I know that they do support the idea of some kind of history beinga lot of what they're talking about as far as the history sites, putting up a display, or whatever it is, working with the museums and all that, but I also have a letter here from theit's in with my testimony therefrom the Montana Stockgrowers, and I'll justit's quite lengthy, but I'll just read a couple of sentences here at the very end of it.
It says, ''We support your effort to bring''this is addressed to me, by the way''We support your efforts to bring badly needed insight to this ominous program through testimony during the congressional hearings. We also offer our support for your efforts to have this initiative withdrawn until a full congressional review has been completed and a fully developed program is presented for adequate public comment.''
They are interested in working with the group in Billings, because if it's going to go ahead anyhow, which apparently this President has the idea that this will go ahead regardless of what we do, they certainly want to be part of it. But they are very, very concerned because this thing has not been up for public comment; it has not been fully developed; it has not been fully explained.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. Mr. Bright, could you briefly describe the National Park Service's policy regarding roads within the Buffalo National Park?
Mr. BRIGHT. Yes, thank you, Madam Chairman. When they came to our community, they talked about better access for more people, and in reality they've taken roads that were historically our county roads and blocked them. And I'd just like to give you one example, if I could.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute. ''They'' being
Page 176 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BRIGHT. I mean the Park Service put boulders in part of them because they say that our roads were not surveyed off and that we just had a proscriptive easement, but you have to understand, this was not Federal land; this was private land, and we had those easements in there. We had a visitor fall off a bluffthey love to climb bluffs, you know, and he fell, and it took our first responders, local people, 3 hours to haul him out for medical attention. He fell within 100 yards of our county roads called Centerpoint Road. They had a horse die down there; they unlocked the cable on it and took a backhoe down and hauled the dead horse out. But we had to haul thethey had to haul the gentleman that had fell out by hand; it took them 3 hours. They have no common sense.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Well, where is your sheriff and your county commissioners?
Mr. BRIGHT. That's a good question.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. They have absolutely noI'm sorry about getting so excited, and I'm not supposed to testify here, but they have no jurisdiction over your county roads. What's wrong with your local units of government?
Mr. BRIGHT. They're intimidated; they've been bullied and intimidated, and we are a very poor county and they don't have the guts to wind up in court, and the Park Service tells them that when they put that gate there, that if they go through that, they'll be destroying government property and they'll be
Mrs. CHENOWETH. It isn't governmentI'm sorry.
Mr. BRIGHT. I know, I understand. The cable's there; you have to understand, Madam Chairman. The cable they put up is theirs, and I guess if you knock it down, that would be government property; I don't know. I don't get it, either.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Well, this is shocking to me.
Mr. BRIGHT. We would really appreciate some help. I know you've got so much to investigate up here, though; you probably don't have time to investigate something in poor little Newton County, but if you ever get around to it, we'd love to have you.
Page 177 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Well, I'm telling you, I am exceedingly interested in this particular issue. You have certainly gotten my attention. The Park Serviceno national or Federal agency has jurisdiction over ingress or egress using county roads, and I don't know where your county attorney is, or who's protecting you people, but you need protecting, and that's not from the Federal Government.
Mr. BRIGHT. I understand. We had an attorney general's opinion, and he really agreed with them. He also joined a suit with the Sierra Club on a timber sale in Newton County, and probably will again, and is currently suing three property owners along Crooked Creek, trying to prove that it is a navigable stream, because they have fences there, and they've had them there for 50 years. So we don't get much help at home in places.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Bright, I know the hour is late, but I want you to stay in personal contact with me on this.
Mr. BRIGHT. I would be happy to do that, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Would you, please?
Mr. BRIGHT. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you.
Mr. BRIGHT. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Nelson, would you please elaborate more about what you testified to, about the Park Service superintendent standing up in uniform and testifying at county zoning board meetings?
Mr. NELSON. The superintendent has attended several meetings. I believe one of them had to do with the mining, a farm that was going to be mined for gravel that was in the viewshed of the park. They objected to that. They hadthey presented in front of the board of supervisors on differentwith their different plans and other things as well.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Well, I guess it's a new trend, but I'm not pleased with it.
Page 178 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NELSON. We're not pleased with it, either.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. No.
How much of your property would beis therelet me ask it this way: Is there a part of your property that aligns a river?
Mr. NELSON. We have a road that separates us from the river. There is the property right on the river, then the road, and then we're across the road from that. We can see the river.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Nelson, tell me, where does your county come down on the American Heritage Rivers designation?
Mr. NELSON. The county, to myas I have been informed, is in opposition to it, to that initiative.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I would suggest you go home and get your county to petition or just simply to opt out.
Mr. NELSON. OK. As I stated in here, they're supposed to be writing a letter to their congressional
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And I would very much appreciateand I know Mr. Schaffer would, tooreceiving a copy of that letter.
Mr. NELSON. Yes, ma'am.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. OK.
Mr. NELSON. And as an individual, I opt out of it.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. That's good. Mr. Nelson, would you please get Mr. Bliley to sign onto my bill? You work on him from the home front; I'll work on him from this front.
Page 179 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NELSON. We will try.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. OK. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you so much for your patience. Your testimony has been very, very valuable. I must commend Ms. Moss on the work that she is doing, especially on the local level, and all of you, thank you very, very much for your testimony. And, again, it's been a long day, but my hat is off to you for your perseverance, and please stay in touch with me as things develop in your State. Thank you.
This record will remain open for three weeks. If any of you wish to alter or amend any of your testimony, please do so within that timeframe. I want you to know also members of the Committee may have additional questions, and if they do, they will be submitting them to you in writing.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Schaffer, do you have anything for the Committee?
Mr. SCHAFFER. No, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. With that, this Committee is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 7:53 p.m., the Committee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF HON. CHRISTOPHER B. CANNON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Thank you Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to discuss this bill. I am proud to be a cosponsor of H.R. 1842. I along with many of you here today have serious concern about the need for the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Although this national rivers proposal has been in the Federal Register for three months and was the subject of a recent hearing by the House Resources Committee, few of my fundamental questions about this proposal have been satisfactorily answered. I, along with 54 of my colleagues, signed a letter to President Clinton on August 14 asking him to postpone the comment deadline for the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. We were denied our request. The Administration's response was that in the 90 day comment period, they had received enough comments and enough suggestions. In fact they had received less then 2,000 comments from across this country. But it appears that no number of comments would have affected the Administration because the individuals who had proposed the program had already made up their minds.
Page 180 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Limited input is not sufficient input. Last year, my home state of Utah had eleven days notice before the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was creatednotice given in a leaked story of the Washington Post. Utah's elected officials approached the Administration and objected to the proposal. The Administration adamantly claimed that no action was imminent. Now the Administration claims that Utahans had input. Of course that is silly. Now, I guess I shouldn't complain. I would have been exhilarated to have had the chance to solicit some 1,700 comments and suggestions on the Administration's actions last Fall in Utah.
There is another aspect of this initiative that is important to me. I have serious concerns that this initiative will be used as a political tool to reward ''friends'' of the Administration. Now that we have exposed the White House fundraising scandals, I foresee a partisan political agenda that will grant American Heritage River status as favors to various supporters nationwide. My fear is that political undercurrents will soon be driving the river designation process.
I support H.R. 1842 because the American Heritage Rivers program is not good for our rivers, a River Navigator is not good for our communities or the programs that would be raided. This Administration has proved it does not care about private property rights. A voluntary program should not take 13 agencies for implementation. If we need a program to help our rivers, let us do it on the local level, where states and local communities can run it without layering another bureaucratic blanket across our nation.
Ms. McGinty, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, has said that they have ''worked diligently'' to address the concerns about private property rights. If they were serious about answering our concerns, they would have at least taken the time to listen to them. In my view they have not done that, and our private property rights are seriously in jeopardy. That is why I support H.R. 1842.
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STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY BONILLA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Chairman Young, thank you for the opportunity to present testimony to your Committee today on the American Heritage Rivers Initiative (AHRI). I have many concerns about the initiative the President just implemented, without Congressional approval.
I represent the 23rd Congressional District of Texas, which includes 800 miles of the Rio Grande. For those of you who have never seen the river, let me tell you it is majestic river that twists and turns its way through some rough but beautiful country. The river has contributed a great deal to the rich culture and heritage of the region and just imagine, it has managed to do all of this without a Federal initiative, program or declaration.
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) asserts this initiative will ''create a government that works better and costs less through focusing on customer service, developing partnerships and delegating power to the front lines.'' The Federal Government should already be doing this. Efficiency should not require a new Federal order. Why do we need this or any other initiative to direct the Federal agencies to do their jobs? Since when is duplicative government a good idea?
The initiative's authors claim it will not cost any additional money or add new regulations. My understanding is that communities can already apply for money and they can apply without any type of Federal designation. We just do not know what kind of strings will be attached to the designation and any money that may come with it. The AHRI only says the communities will receive assistance with the application process but it does not guarantee any money.
I am also concerned that this initiative will lead to increased Federal intrusions into communities and may regulate or control the use and access of the rivers. The possibility that it may be defined as including watersheds is particularly alarming. This could lead to government control of an entire region. Any time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hunting for new tasks I am very worried. Let the bureaucrats in and there goes the use and control of the river and any property along the river to say the very least.
Page 182 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am particularly concerned about the directive to the Federal agencies to go into the communities to restore the river. Until Congress is able to bring common sense to many of the overburdensome laws and regulations such as the Endangered Species Act, and Federal wetlands policies, to name a few, these agencies be able to wield as much power as they want in these communities and on private ranch and farm land.
CEQ has also promoted this as a grass roots or bottom up program that is good for the communities and the rivers. But I have to wonder about this. Most of my constituents are vehement in their opposition.
I also have to wonder why CEQ rushed this initiative limiting thereby citizens input. Why did they need to rush the initial comment period? Only after being inundated with requests to extend the deadline did they add another 60 days to the comment period.
I would also add that since the initiative was first proposed I have received many letters and phone calls from constituents asking me to oppose the initiative. And that is exactly why I am here today, to allow the people in my district to have a voice. Most of the people I have heard from live in rural communities along the river and depend on the river for their livelihoods.
The significance of the Rio Grande will not change based on this designation nor will it be diminished in any way if it does not receive this designation. I will continue to stand strong for property rights and recognition to the area for the rich heritage and culture that the river has brought the region. We need not sacrifice any right to obtain Federal recognition of our region's beauty and importance. We know far better than any Washington bureaucrat the unique nature of our region. This is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1842 and I have come here today to support the passage of this bill. I look forward to voting for this bill on the House floor.
The only things clear about the AHRI are the questions it raises. Thank you.
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STATEMENT OF HON. RAY LAHOOD, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to appear here today to express my support for the President's American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
When the President announced this initiative during his State of the Union Address, many of us in Illinois, who have been working since 1994 to develop an integrated management plan for the Illinois River, were elated that such national prominence was being placed on the protection and restoration of our nation's rivers. Without the leadership of Lt. Governor Bob Kustra, the monetary commitment of Governor Jim Edgar, and the teamwork of the Illinois River Strategy Team, Peoria Lakes, in my hometown, would be nothing more than a mosquito infested mud flat in a very short time. Over the last eight years, nearly a foot of silt has been deposited across the bottom of the river in Peoria Lakes.
Additionally, serious flooding in many areas along the river has caused tremendous damage. While increased rainfall contributes mightily to flooding, there is no doubt that a shallower river, altered landscapes, and channelized streams throughout the watershed have a strong influence on where that rainfall, and the silt carried in flood waters, is deposited. Water naturally follows the easiest path. When the volume of the river is reduced due to a shallower base, the flood water will rise into surrounding farmlands and communities, bringing the financial damage that goes with it.
Illinois cannot afford to wait to take action on plans to restore the river to what was once a national treasure. That's why the Illinois River Strategy Team was created. This team is a diverse group of farmers, environmentalists, local company executives, college professors, and elected officials. I am a member of that team. And let me take this opportunity to emphasize that our plan recognizes that both the public interest and private property rights must be protected if this plan is to move forward. The plan brings together local citizens and all levels of government in a grassroots, coalition-building effort to maintain the watershed. We are all interested in the long-term maintenance of the river for our future generations. By asking his Administration to focus on coordinating Federal resources for the restoration of our national waterways and to serve as a network, the President has given all of us a tremendous boost in our efforts to implement our plans. We would be very disappointed to have to go back to the people that have worked so hard to develop these plans and tell them that this initiative will not receive the support of Congress.
Page 184 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Clearly, we believe that implementation must be controlled at the local and state level, but with the help of the Federal Government as a partner. I, for one, will work to see that control under this initiative is maintained at the state level. But I believe the Federal Government has an important role to play.
While I have given my support to the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, I remain a fierce advocate of personal property rights. Additionally, any attempt to alter, limit, or restrict farmers and ranchers access to traditional agricultural environmental programs, will not be favorably looked upon by me.
Agriculture has made tremendous strides in the last decade in meeting its environmental obligations. Today's farming techniques have come a long way. These techniques make the Federal Government a partner with producers in addressing environmental challenges, rather than an adversary. It is voluntary and incentive-based and that should not change. I view the American Heritage River initiative as another incentive-based, voluntary program available to agriculture.
The Illinois River is a tremendous natural, recreational and economic resource for the country. And nine out of every ten Illinois residents are in some way touched by the Illinois River watershed, which is why our entire Illinois delegation has written to the President supporting the National Heritage Rivers Initiative, and, in particular, our own Illinois River as one of the National Heritage Rivers. A copy of our letter to the President is attached to this statement for the record. It is my hope that this process will be allowed to continue and to provide much needed national attention and a coordinated effort by all of us to improve our nation's rivers.
Thank you, again, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to appear here today.
STATEMENT OF HON. LAMAR S. SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESSS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Page 185 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I appreciate the Committee's willingness to allow me to testify today about the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Congress has an important responsibility to protect citizen's Constitutional guarantees such as the right to own and use private property. I am extremely concerned about the recent Proclamation issued by President Clinton that creates the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
When the President announced in his State of the Union address that he was creating a program such as this, I never dreamed that he would completely dismiss the legislative process. As we all know, this proposal was rammed through the administrative process without Congressional comment or review. Had the normal process for the creation of new programs been followed, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative would have had the benefit of congressional hearings. And the public would have had maximum input. It would have been carefully considered and amended, if necessary, in a series of legislative steps that begin with full and open debate on the floors of the House and Senate and end with recorded votes.
Full and open debate on a bill that was supported by a majority of Senator's and Representative's would have yielded authorization and appropriation of the program. However, because the program was created by Presidential proclamation, Congress has done neither.
Absent any express funding, the President has chosen to ignore Congressional intent and reprogram funding. Money is being taken from legitimate, authorized programs that have already undergone cuts to pay for this unauthorized and unstudied new program. The President's plan is taking personnel from many of these same programs and requiring them to work on the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. This is not fair to those programs who are already strapped for funding and personnel, nor to the constituents who rely on them.
The lack of protection for private property rights within this program is of great concern to me. I have expressed my concern repeatedly since the program was first published in the Federal Register. There are no substantive protections for private property rights. And given that a majority of the land in the United States is privately held land, I think there is cause for concern.
Page 186 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While the final rule has been issued for this program, a number of questions remain about the protection of private property rights. First and foremost in my mind is how much control over private property would ultimately be placed in the hands of Federal regulators?
From my reading of the final rule I believe that an enormous amount of power would be granted to Federal agencies and in particular the one Federal agency from which the ''river navigator'' is chosen. This river navigator would have the power to dictate how land abutting a designated river could and could not be used. Why are local citizens not trusted to care for local resources?
This power raises serious concerns, especially in my home state of Texas where many farmers and ranchers rely heavily on rivers, streams, and watersheds. In many cases it is their only source for irrigation purposes or for the survival of their livestock. Much to my dismay this issue has never been adequately addressed.
Problems occur when Federal agencies are allowed to run rampant and given new authority without Congressional approval. This is precisely what will happen with the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. Federal agencies have been given no parameters to work within. I cringe at the thought of farmers, ranchers, and especially private property owners fighting this unchecked power in the future.
It is a shame that President Clinton did not have the confidence in his program to allow it to bear the burden of public scrutiny, whether from the citizens or from Congress. Since the announcement of this program the President and Kathleen McGinty from the Council on Environmental Quality have said they are ''baffled'' by the outrage that has been generated. Once again the Administration has completely misused the American people. However, they decided to move forward amid much public discontent and officially create the American Heritage Rivers Initiative.
Page 187 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As Members of Congress we have an obligation to our constituents to protect their rivers and their land. It is our duty to ensure that the money that we authorize and appropriate is spent on its intended programs and not ''reprogrammed.'' The American Heritage Rivers Initiative is in direct contrast to the will of the people and the Congress and should not receive any money until it authorized and appropriations are made. I am a cosponsor of Mrs. Chenoweth's bill because I feel that it is our best opportunity to halt the forward movement of this program and hopefully bring it to Congress to be fully vetted by the people's representatives.
As the Chairman of the House Coalition on Property Rights, I am supportive of any steps that this Committee takes in moving Mrs. Chenoweth's bill forward. A vote on the House floor will reflect the voice of the American peoplethe voice that was ignored by the administration when it created this program.
Again I thank the Committee for allowing me to testify today on this important issue.
STATEMENT OF HON. ASA HUTCHINSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARKANSAS
Mr. Chairman and members of the Resources Committee, I thank you for inviting me here to testify before you today, and I commend you for the outstanding leadership you have displayed throughout the months since the announcement and publication of the Administration's ''American Heritage Rivers Initiative.'' I am grateful for the opportunity to express to this body the concerns of many of the constituents I serve in the Third District of Arkansas, and, I am delighted that later on today you will welcome one of those constituents, Mr. David Bright of Jasper, Arkansas, to speak to those concerns himself.
Mr. Bright's is a story which, I am sad to say, is not the only one of its kind. But it is my hope that through the efforts of this Committee and citizens like Mr. Bright, the potentially negative effects of innocent-sounding Federal involvement in local land matters will be brought to light and scenarios like the one Mr. Bright and his neighbors endured will not be allowed to take place in the future.
Page 188 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I was first alerted to the American Heritage Rivers Initiative during the week of May the 19th, when I received at least fifty calls from angered constituents asking that I oppose the President's new river plan and stop the Administration from taking their land.
Mr. Chairman, I have a number of concerns about the substance of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative and about the way the Administration has gone about its implementation.
The Administration states that the initiative creates no new Federal regulation but simply allows ''River Communities'' streamlined access to Federal programs. It is designed to be community-driven and community-led, and is not supposed to appropriate any new monies or create any new programs. This, on the surface, seems commendable. However, I would assert that the implementation of the initiative will not be as simple and beneficial as it seems, and I must question why it is being implemented by executive fiat rather than through the normal legislative process.
The initiative does not require the authorization of local officials in designating a river a ''Heritage River.'' Nor does it specifically state that if a river community's action plan infringes on the rights of private property owners living in a heritage area, designation will not take place. This is understandably worrisome to those private landowners living within the bounds of these areas.
Rivers are not limited by man-made boundaries; they run freely across state, county and local lines. By designating rivers ''Heritage Rivers,'' and allowing people in those areas to avail themselves of Federal resources, the initiative will create new Federal jurisdictions that cut across town, city, county and state lines. Moreover, the initiative allows for designations encompassing not only rivers, but contributing watersheds and streams as well and will allow the twelve Federal agencies involved in implementing the initiative to favor these ''Heritage River'' communities over other communities in granting Federal aid. This circumvents the Federal legislative process and, more importantly, the will of the people who elected Federal legislators by reprogramming and reallocating Federal funds without the express consent or authorization of Congress. This is not right.
Page 189 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, as I stated before, the Administration's final proposal states that the initiative will create no new Federal regulations. However, it also states that ''the American Heritage Rivers Interagency Committee may assist in overcoming obstacles that arise as many Federal services are provided.'' This committee is comprised of twelve Federal agency heads. In ''overcoming obstacles,'' what is to prevent these agency heads from withholding funds from other projects in the event that communities do not cooperate unanimously? What will keep them from imposing existing regulations, to which these areas are nor currently subject, on these areasfrom imposing them on the people or land in these areas?
Mr. Chairman, I realize that the President has the prerogative to set rules and regulations for executive branch agencies, and I believe that the Administration means well in creating this initiative. However, the Administration is aware of the concerns of this Committee about the program's refocusing of funds, reallocation of resources, grant monies and employees, and its new enforcement of already-existing regulations on areas not currently under ''Federal'' jurisdiction. These are all things that should come under the jurisdiction of Congress, but the President has already enacted this initiative by Executive Orderwithout congressional hearings or congressional consent.
By doing so, the Administration has already demonstrated an unwillingness to act in good faith in the process. Why, in this era of cooperation displayed in the recent enactment of the Balanced Budget and Taxpayer Relief Acts, is the Administration so unwilling to cooperate with Congress on this matter and submit this initiative to the normal legislative process? Why, with as much controversy as surrounds the initiative at this point, should we believe that the Administration will act in any better a fashion in implementing the initiative's provisions than it has acted in ordering its enactment?
This initiative, which is supposed to be part of the ''re-invention of government'' touted so vigorously as of late, will only reinforce a dependence upon Washington for that which should come from the community. If this initiative is community-driven, why is there a need for ''focused attention'' from Federal agencies? If this initiative is designed to make government smaller and more easily accessible, why not remove the Federal Government from participation all together?
Page 190 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I applaud the effort of this Committee to prevent the further implementation of the American Heritage Rivers Initiativenot because I don't believe that our nation's rivers need to be protected, but because I believe that our communities and the people living in them know best how to protect these resources and can do so without Federal oversight or regulation. For these reasons, I have co-sponsored H.R. 1842, which is being considered by the Committee today, and I urge my colleagues to do so as well.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT S. LYNCH, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, CENTRAL ARIZONA PROJECT ASSOCIATION
Mr. Chairman, Members of the House Resources Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear here today and testify on the American Heritage Rivers Initiative and H.R. 1842. I have the pleasure of serving as Chairman of the Board of the Central Arizona Project Association, an Arizona non-profit association formed in 1946 to promote authorization and then construction and operation of the Central Arizona Project. Our Association membership represents business, resource, local government and agricultural interests throughout the state interested in the continued success of the Central Arizona Project.
The Project itself consists of over 300 miles of canal system and a regulating reservoir that provides an average of 1.5 million acre-feet of water annually to roughly two-thirds of the population of the state, industries, agriculture and Indian communities in central Arizona. That quantity of water represents over half of the entitlement of the State of Arizona to water from the Colorado River and some 20 percent of the entitlement of the three Lower Basin states (Arizona, California and Nevada) to water from the Colorado River.
Our interest in the American Heritage Rivers Initiative stems from our interest in and support of the Central Arizona Project. We are concerned that implementing this Initiative could very well interfere with ongoing efforts to resolve problems in the Colorado River Basin that affect the Central Arizona Project and its water supply. Our concerns fall into three categories: participation, process and personnel.
Page 191 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Both the President's Executive Order and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Federal Register notice imply some loose geographic standard for defining non-Federal participation in this Initiative. The Executive Order talks about ''communities along rivers,'' 62 Fed. Reg. 48443 at 48445 (September 15, 1997). The CEQ Federal Register notice talks about ''communities surrounding designated rivers'' and ''River communities'' and ''People . . . who live and work in the area . . .'', 62 Fed. Reg. 48860, 48862 (September 17, 1997). The Phoenix metropolitan area served by CAP is some 190 miles from the Colorado River. The Tucson metropolitan area is another 120 miles beyond that. CAP is a vital part of the water supplies of central Arizona but this Initiative apparently would not consider these vital interests part of the interests to which the interagency committee established by the Executive Order would listen concerning the Colorado River.
Similarly, Salt Lake City would have no voice in matters related to the Duchesne or Green Rivers, even though receiving water from the Central Utah Project. Denver and other east slope Colorado cities would have no voice in the Colorado, the Green, the Yampa, the White, the Gunnison, etc. People in Albuquerque could voice opinions about the Rio Grande but not the San Juan. The Los Angeles metropolitan area would have nothing to say about the Lower Colorado River as this Initiative may impact it. Presumably national and regional environmental groups and other organizations also would be excluded from this process.
The point is that legitimate interests concerning rivers are not confined merely to those who live or work alongside them. Nor is proximity much of a test when, as is often the case in the West, no one lives or works alongside them. It appears that those who crafted this Initiative, while paying lip service to rural areas and Western communities, were primarily drawing on their personal experiences as residents of other parts of the country. In the West, legitimate interests regarding rivers are often at great distance from them. That does not render these interests any less legitimate nor any less important. The Initiative is seriously flawed in this respect.
Page 192 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We are very concerned about the processes outlined in the Executive Order and the CEQ program. The Executive Order mandates a consultation requirement that must precede Federal agency action with regard to rivers designated under this program. There is no explanation in the Executive Order or in the CEQ program about how this gets done and how this consultation requirement relates to similar requirements in various laws affecting the same resources. For example, the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act contains some very specific directives from Congress about consultation. If the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead were designated under this Initiative, would this consultation requirement add processes to those required by Congress? There is no requirement, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act to consult with affected interests when the Service is consulting with another Federal agency (or itself) as required by Section 7. If a river is designated under the Initiative, must the Fish and Wildlife Service now consult with affected interests before entering into consultation with another agency under Section 7? Must the Environmental Protection Agency add a consultation requirement pursuant to this Executive Order to permit processes under the Clean Water Act and other programs it administers?
We raise these issues because we have had some experience with the Colorado River and these programs. There is an ongoing recovery program in the Upper Colorado River related to four endangered fish. There is a program entered into for the Lower Colorado River between the United States on the one hand and the three Lower Basin states and other affected interests on the other covering over 100 species from Glen Canyon Dam to the southerly international border. If the Colorado or any portion of it were designated, would these processes be impacted by this new consultation requirement? Would the River Navigator or River Navigators designated assume a role not currently defined in Colorado River processes? Would the consultation requirements of the 1968 Colorado River Basin Project Act be affected?
Page 193 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Additionally, the CEQ Federal Register notice promises that obligations of Federal agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act will not be disturbed by this Initiative (62 Fed. Reg. at 48866). Since the agencies in the next breath are being directed to provide programs and resources aimed at satisfying community interests in site-specific areas of a watercourse, it would seem that this program is creating a new class of Federal actions requiring NEPA clearance separate and apart from existing programs. Will designation require such NEPA clearance before any Federal help can be received after the designation? Who will pay the cost of that clearance?
Finally, we are concerned about the effects of implementing this new Initiative on Federal personnel and the costs associated with that commitment. The Executive Order requires agencies to establish a method for field offices to assess the success of the Initiative and recommend changes. The Executive Order also mandates high-level participation by 12 departments and agencies, directs the agencies to do a number of assessments and inventories of programs, regulations, grants and other assistance and then requires them to reformulate those to fit this Initiative. That reads like a serious time commitment.
In turn, the CEQ program announces that Federal field staff have been identified in each state to answer questions (62 Fed. Reg. at 48861). It provides for a River Navigator to be available for each designation. This person would be a Federal employee. Other Federal employees would have to be involved in distributing, receiving and processing nomination packets. A report for the panel of experts would have to be provided and staffing for the cabinet or sub-cabinet interagency task force would also have to be provided, as well as the members themselves.
Page 194 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC All of this takes time. Presumably, the people involved in this program at the various agencies will be people with some knowledge and background about rivers and about the resources typically associated with them. People knowledgeable in the sciences, people active in cultural, archaeological, endangered species, water resources, power resources, wetlands, and environmental programs, etc., will have to be detailed to these tasks. We are concerned that doing so will pull them away from other important tasks that already take too much time to get accomplished. We are concerned that other coordination and permitting processes could suffer. Specifically, we are concerned that people already stretched to the limit will be drawn away from two critical Endangered Species Act programs: the Upper Basin Recovery Program and the Lower Colorado River Basin Multi-Species Conservation Plan. We are also concerned that, in a year of stressful hydrologic conditions, personnel of the Bureau of Reclamation may be diverted from critical tasks on the Colorado River to other areas because of designations that need to have knowledgeable people involved in them.
We are also concerned that costs associated with implementing this new program have not been addressed. Even if no new dollars are appropriated by Congress for grants, loans, construction funds, and the like, the personnel costs associated with implementing this program have to be borne somewhere. How will those costs be allocated? To what programs or projects will they be assigned? Will they be reimbursable by local sponsors of existing projects and programs? Is there a danger of significant cost shifting from costs already assigned pursuant to which Congress has already approved funding?
One thing is clear. There will be costs in both time and dollars associated with implementing this Initiative. Those costs are real and may be substantial. If the Initiative goes forward, those costs should be tracked and reported to Congress by each of the agencies involved. In the meantime, the public should be assured that existing projects and programs will not be hampered by this additional workload. Justice delayed is justice denied in the executive branch as well.
Page 195 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Before closing, we would be remiss if we did not congratulate Congressman Bob Schaffer for his efforts in having inserted in the CEQ Federal Register notice the savings language with regard to water and water rights. That had been and continues to be a matter of critical concern to us and to many others in the West. We remain concerned, however, that the focus of designation pursuant to this Initiative on a particular watercourse will concentrate interest in applying other regulatory programs to those water resources in a manner that could create the same problems this savings language seeks to avoid. If Congress is providing no additional money beyond salaries and administration for this program, what the agencies are left with is a command from the President to go forward and only existing tools to use. The Federal tools used on rivers are typically the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and similar laws with Federal enforcement programs and permit programs. The river community congratulating itself about its designation may find that the ''help'' it is getting from the Federal Government comes in the form of increased demands for changes in water uses. Concentrated examination under existing regulatory programs of that river or river segment may generate local costs, rather than local benefits.
Having made a sincere effort to review these documents and understand their intent, we are unfortunately left confused. We do not see how CAP interests can participate in, let alone be enhanced by, this new program. We cannot tell how the requirements of this new program mesh with existing requirements that affect CAP interests and the interests of others similarly situated. We cannot ascertain how the costs of this new program and the time burdens associated with it will be allocated and what barriers to accomplishing tasks under other programs will be created.
Page 196 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This new program is uncomfortably vague. We would recommend that this program be set aside, at least for the moment. Perhaps CEQ could enter into another, more inclusive, round of discussions with interested groups and parties around the country and answer the questions that have been raised such as those we raise here. Failing interest in doing that, regretfully we would recommend that Congress withhold funding for any efforts under this Initiative until it can be clarified as to its purpose and impacts.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear here today and testify on this important subject.
STATEMENT OF DESMOND SMITH, PRESIDENT, TRANS TEXAS HERITAGE ASSOCIATION
My name is Desmond Smith. I am president of the Trans Texas Heritage Association and I am here today representing our members who own 15 1/2 million acres of private property in Texas and one million acres in New Mexico. The Trans Texas Heritage Association has four regional associations; Davis Mountains Trans-Pecos Heritage Association, Hill Country Heritage Association, East Texas Heritage Association and the Bootheel Heritage Association in New Mexico. Our purpose and goal as an organization is the preservation of private property rights.
I am a rancher from Lampasas, Texas, where we operate a ranch that has been in my wife's family for 147 years. Most people know that farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists. In fact, if we hadn't done such a good job of caring for our land I doubt the government and the environmentalists would be so interested in taking it from us, even though there is ample evidence that public ownership and public access to land does not offer the same protection as the loving care it receives at the hands of private property owners. So you can see why private property owners would question the motives of the environmental movement. If resource protection is the problem, privatenot publicownership and control is and always has been the solution.
Page 197 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In Texas, 98 percent of the land is privately owned and we'd like to keep it that way. But it's getting more and more difficult. Not because the government has been on a buying spree, but because the government is taking more and more private property through regulatory means. Through Federal laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, the government has been telling landowners what they cannot do with their land.
Over the past few years, landowners have been trying to make Congress and the public understand the concept of regulatory taking of private property, but we haven't been very successful. For some reason, people think the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution don't count and that it's OK to take people's property in the name of the environment. Now this administration has gone beyond even regulatory takings to ''takings'' by Federal designation.
The people of Utah know how it feels to have their land taken by designation, and Texas landowners are no stranger to this concept. In 1994, there was a move to designate 5 water bodies as Outstanding National Resource Waters. The property rights implications for surrounding landowners were grave. We were able to defeat that. Then, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service threatened to designate 33 counties in central Texas as critical habitat for the endangered golden-checked warbler. Again, the property rights of every landowner in those 33 counties would have been gone, except that Texas landowners said ''absolutely not.''
We understood then as we do now that Federal designations necessarily bring with them limitations on the use of private property. And this is why we are so concerned about the impact of the Federal designation of the Rio Grande River as an American Heritage River.
I first became aware of the AHRI from a rancher who noticed low-level helicopter flights over his land. He asked the pilot later at the local airport what was going on and he was told the Texas General Land office was conducting aerial mapping of the private property along the Rio Grande as part of an effort to map transnational resources. I learned more about this mapping through an article in the Marfa, Texas newspaper dated February 13, 1997, but not nearly enough. And nobody I have talked to yet can tell me what a ''transnational resource'' is. Some of our members who are landowners along the Rio Grande were naturally concerned that their land and water might suddenly be classified as a transnational resource.
Page 198 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Then we found out that Texas Land Commissioner Garry Mauro was pushing the local officials along the Rio Grande to petition for Federal designation as an American Heritage River. A friend in our Governor's office told us about a meeting on the AHRI in Laredo on April 28, this year, and my wife and I and one of the directors of our organization decided to go.
When we walked in, the people at the desk started looking for our name tags and I told them they wouldn't find them. It turns out the meeting was by invitation only. There were people from all levels of government and also from the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society. If we hadn't just shown up, there would have been no representation from landowners or landowner groups.
What we have learned since then, is that this is supposed to be a ''bottom up'' initiative, but what was obvious that day was that the Texas General Land Office was really behind this. It is generally known that Garry Mauro, the Land Commissioner, is a good friend of the Clintons and we were told that the White House had suggested the AHRI would be good for the Rio Grande. That sure doesn't sound very bottom up to me.
Garry Mauro breezed in to that meeting for a few minutes and there was a lot of backslapping and glad handing going on. He did a TV interview then said he had to leave for Washington, DC. At the meeting it was suggested Garry Mauro should be made the ''River Navigator'' for the Rio Grande. I won't elaborate on that here, but if you have any questions about the River Navigator, please feel free to ask me later.
At that Laredo meeting, the people talked about the AHRI in terms of clean water and cultural heritage and economic development. I stood up and asked if this would include Mexico and the fellow from the CEQ said it wouldn't. Then I asked him how they expected to clean up the Rio Grande if Mexico wasn't going to be made to do its part. He didn't answer.
Right after that, the moderator asked everyone to stand and state their name and organizational affiliations. Everyone there was from the government except the people from the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society and us. When I discovered a representative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was there I really became concerned. It was obvious from their presence and that of the environmental groups that the AHRI was intended to have some environmental consequence.
Page 199 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We've been trying to figure out what the AHRI is all about ever since and nothing we have been told makes any sense. The CEQ said the AHRI is supposed to help Federal agencies do a better job of giving money away at the local level. We were told it was part of Vice President Gore's plan to reinvent government. Somehow, if a community would apply for a Federal designation as an American Heritage River, these agencies would magically begin to do their jobs. The CEQ assured us there would be no new Federal dollars and no new regulationsjust that Federal agencies would focus more on communities that had applied for and received the Federal designation.
The CEQ told us the AHRI was about restoring rivers, but how do you restore a river? When Ray Clark with the CEQ came to Austin on July 9, we asked him about that. Did they mean restoring water quality? If so, given the fact that we have a Clean Water Act already and especially since Mexico still dumps raw sewage and industrial waste into the Rio Grande, how would the AHRI, with no new regulations, improve water quality? He allowed as how a petition for designation of the Rio Grande on the basis of improving water quality probably wouldn't be very well received.
If not water quality, then how about restoring water quantity? If you look at the website for American Rivers, an environmental group dedicated to restoring rivers to their natural state, you'll see that they heartily support the AHRI. This group also supports removing dams and impoundments. Is that what this is really about? If so, what about water rights and flood control and drinking water supplies and hydroelectric power from dams? Ray Clark told us the AHRI wouldn't have anything to do with removing dams and impoundments along the river.
Well, what's left? How else do you restore a river? Did they mean restoring commerce to the river? If so, to what previous level and what prevents this from happening now, without a Federal designation? For that matter, if there are no new Federal dollars and no new Federal regulations, what can we accomplish with AHRI that we can't accomplish now? NOTHING.
Page 200 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Why would a local community allow itself to become a Federal community in order to attract Federal dollars that are already there for the asking through programs that already exist? I understand Congressman Sylvestre Reyes and the people of El Paso want a River Walk. Well, San Antonio has had a river walk for years but they didn't have to get a Federal designation to accomplish that. What in the hell is really going on here?
The thinking people of this nation were shocked and sickened by Clinton's arrogant designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante as a national monument. Now he has given us the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, which will ignore private property rights in the name of economic development, I guess. Only with AHRI he won't take it from the people; he'll blackmail communities into asking for the Federal designation using the veiled threat of withholding Federal dollars.
There are two things that I find very unsettling about the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. The first is that this administration thinks the American people are so stupid we would fall for this. The other is the negative property rights implications inherent in the Federal designation of anything.
I am asking you folks to please do the American people a great service and pass H.R. 1842, not just out of this Committee but out of the full Congress. And if there is anything the Trans Texas Heritage Association can do to help you, please know we are at your service.
Thank you for your time. God bless America and God bless you all. I will be happy to entertain your questions.
STATEMENT OF DAVID YOUNG, ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Page 201 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Good Morning:
My name is David Young. I am a resident of Asheville, located in western North Carolina. I am here today to speak to you as a citizen, small business owner, local elected official, and as the Chairman of the RiverLink task force spearheading the nomination of the French Broad as an American Heritage River. In all of these capacities, I fully support the American Heritage River Initiative.
Our task force has been following the AHRI since the President announced the program on February 4th. Our task force is comprised of interested citizens, chamber of commerce executives, elected officials from throughout the river basin, riverfront property owners, recreational enthusiast, artists and craftsmen, tourism development experts and non-profit agencies.
We cannot afford to make this a partisan issue. This is a viable program which will help us both develop and preserve our wonderful river. We have over 2,000 endorsements similar to the ones in your packets. We have widespread bipartisan support including Governor of North Carolina, James B. Hunt, Jr., a Democrat and Don Sundquist, Governor of Tennessee a Republican. We have resolutions by the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, (all Republicans) and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, (all Democrats) all in support of this effort to nominate the French Broad as an American Heritage River.
Our task force has been meeting with officials from Tennessee since the initiative was announced and we have formed a new bond with our sister state. Like the river itself our committee has decided that we will not be bound by superficial state, city or county lines. Rather we will work together, mindful of the fact that we all live upstream and downstream of each other.
Wilma Dykeman, the author of the book The French Broad, is the honorary chairman of our efforts. A native of WNC, Wilma divides her time between her homes in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. She is the State historian for Tennessee and has written over 17 books and numerous articles that have chronicled the French Broad Region. I know she won't mind me quoting from her book, the French Broad when I describe the French Broad as ''a river and a watershed and a way of life where day before yesterday and day after tomorrow exist in an odd and fascinating harmony as a way of life.'' ''The French Broad country, like most of the mountain region which surrounds it, nourishes paradox. That is the source of much of its allure.'' Over the years our French Broad has become urban and rural, suburban and farmlandit carries us toward our future yet reminds us daily of our pastof our beginnings.
Page 202 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The French Broad River Basin is the ninth largest river basin in the state of North Carolina covering 2,842 square miles. It is located entirely within the Southern Appalachian Mountains region, west of the Eastern Continental Divide. All waters from the French Broad basin drain to the gulf of Mexico via the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The basin includes the highest point in the United States, east of the Mississippi River, located atop Mount Mitchell (elevation 6,684 feet above mean sea level ). The lowest elevation in the basin is 1,254, mean sea level, where the French Broad River flows into Tennessee. There are 4,113 miles of freshwater streams in the basin and seven lakes, all man-made, greater than eight acres in size. The French Broad river watershed has only three small damsmaking it one of the most free flowing watersheds in the county.
On May 1, 1997 RiverLink sponsored a public input session to help gather ideas and develop criteria for the AHRI. We are delighted to see that our suggestions during that May 1 meeting have been incorporated into the permanent criteria for the AHRI. Most notably our suggestion that the designation be given to a broad variety of riverssome smallersome larger. The French Broad may not be the largest river in the United States, or the widest or the longestbut it certainly is one of the most diverse.
During our May 1 public comment period, residents from the two states mixed with elected officials, property owners, businessmen and women, environmentalists, young and old alikeand you could feel the excitement grow. Our interest in the French Broad is igniting a prairie fire of action and a new spirit of cooperation.
We have all learned quite a bit on our journey of discovery of the French Broad. For example, two areas on the French Broad riverthe city of Asheville and Cooke county Tennessee are each celebrating their bicentennial this year. These areas were settled as a direct result of the French Broad. The French Broad has been the region's historic lifeline providing transportation for commerce and routes for exploration. The earliest settlers to the region used the Buncombe County turnpike, which followed the course of the French Broad, to deliver livestock and others goods to and from Tennessee, and Western North Carolina to the seaports in South Carolina.
Page 203 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The French Broad watershed has over 20 archaeological sitessome as old as 12,000 years. Our earliest settlers were the Pisgah Culture, ancestors of the Cherokee Nation, utilized the river for religious ceremony, for bathing, for farming, for fishing and for hunting. Hernando DeSoto and his men floated the French Broad River in search of gold in 1540. One of his campsites, built on top of an ancient Indian Mound, in the middle of the French Broad river, is buried today under the Douglas Dam which provides the power source for Oak Ridgewhere man unraveled one of the secrets of the universe and the first atom was split.
The botanical diversity of the French Broad River is unequaled anywhere in the U.S.A., perhaps in the world. 25,000 years ago as the great ice cap formed over Labrador and pushed slowly out across North America, animal and plant life fled before its crushing destruction to our mountain region. Our forests, the Pisgah National and the Cherokee National, are richer in variety of trees than the whole of Europe. The French Broad is the area where Northern and Southern vegetation meet and mingle. While all of the northern United States was buried under ice, the trees and plants once native to Canada made their last stand on the heights of the Southern Appalachianthese trees and shrubs and herbs have never deserted the mountain refuge they found in WNC and Eastern Tennessee.
Also along the banks of the French Broad at George Vanderbilt's summer home, The Biltmore Estate, the first school of Forestry in the United States was founded in 1898.
During the past decade our focus on the French Broad as a place where people can work, live and play has been intensified under the leadership of RiverLink. RiverLink is a non-profit regional organization dedicated to the environmental and economic revitalization of the French Broad River and its watershed. We view the river as the linkjust as our name indicatesthe river link to our past and to our future. The river links our businesses to our neighborhoods, our commercial centers to our recreational amenities.
The French Broad is our water source, play space, job creator and major attraction. But above all is a living symbol of our common destiny.
Page 204 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Old warehouses, remnants of the 1920's through 50's industrial riverfront sat empty for many years. Today they are teeming with life once again as artists and craftsmen are reclaiming these historic riverfront buildings for studio and living space. We believe that our efforts to reclaim the French Broad are now paying dividends. The French Broad is featured in the September-October issue of Audubon Magazine as one of three rivers in the United States where the Clean Water Act, coupled with citizen governmental involvement has resulted in a river that, once again, can sustain human and animal life.
In meetings with our Task Force for the AHRI, we have talked about the possibility of building a greenway from the French Broad's headwaters to where it ends in eastern Tennessee. This won't be any ordinary greenway! It will encompass two national forests, the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Biltmore Estate, the NC Arboretum, the Ramsey House in Tennessee, Dollywood, Civil War battle sites, neighborhoods, and industrial, recreational and commercial districts, just to name a few of our attractions. We would like for the greenway to have historical markers and public art interpreting the many and varied events that have occurred on the river's banks. We have also discussed the possibility of reestablishing passenger train service along the French Broad River Gorge. The gorge has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and tourists and residents alike will marvel at the vistas. We have also spoken of the need for special economic assistance programs for Madison County in North Carolina and Cocke County in Tennessee. These two counties are contiguous and are among the most economically distressed in either of our states.
We will be seeking additional public comment on October 15th at the North Carolina Arboretum and on October 24 at the Cocke County, Tennessee Community Center. We have sent out over 8,000 letters of invitation to attend these public brainstorming sessions and have invited every foundation in western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee to join us as partners as we develop our application to nominate the French Broad as an American Heritage River.
Page 205 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We know that alone, no one entity, no government agency, no foundation, no one person can accomplish all that we have planned for the French Broad. That is why the American Heritage River Initiative is so importantIt gives us an umbrella under which we can continue to build our constituency for the French Broad. We need businesses, and environmentalists, and bankers and boaters and craftsmen and government to sit together and plan for the future. The AHRI umbrella will help us unravel the maze of Federal grants and technical assistance opportunities; and will give us access to programs that we don't even know exist.
Our greenway demonstration project at the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers is a perfect example of the community coming to together to reclaim the river. Our local electric utility company, Carolina Power and Light, donated 1.9 miles of riverfront property as the first link in an urban greenway system. This land had been an unofficial ''landfill''people would clean out their closets, their attics or their basements and bring their discarded items to the river. Today, after years of clean-up work and the cooperation of over 1,300 people, foundations, government agencies, companies and garden clubs the French Broad River Greenway is a wonderful example of what can and does happen when a community comes together in a spirit of cooperation. That's what we believe is the premise of the American Heritage River Initiativecooperation and coordination with a single vision from the broadest cross-section of the community.
In our efforts to name the French Broad as an American Heritage River we realize that we have already won the prize. We have come together in a whole new way, formed new partnerships and alliances, and discovered our neighbors again, not just nearby cities and counties but our sister stateTennessee. There are things that perhaps we should have known, but we didn't.
We support the American Heritage River Initiative because it is non-regulatory and will not cause an increase in the Federal budget. Rather, it will focus resources on ''OUR'' plan of action. It gives us an umbrella under which to work. The AHRI will force the Federal Government to be responsive to ''OUR'' plan of action for ''OUR'' river.
Page 206 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to the AHRI promise of no additional regulations for rivers selected, our committee has adopted its own code of conduct in regard to our pursuit of the AHR designation for the French Broad. I would like to read that to you. This was adopted unanimously at our last meeting as an additional and personal guarantee.
''We the organizing committee for the AHRI, adopt the following as our personal guarantee and code of conduct in seeking the nomination of the French Broad as an American Heritage River.''
We are pursuing the nomination of the French Broad River as an American Heritage River. Our initial plan, along with other aspects, calls for a greenway along the entire length of the French Broad river corridor from Transylvania County to Knox County, Tennessee, which will be interpreted with public art and historic markers. In pursuit of this greenway and the American Heritage River status we pledge individually and collectively that no property will be condemned, no property owners will be coerced and that all participation in the greenway will be voluntary with all due regard for individual ''property rights.'' We understand that our statement and code of conduct is in complete compliance with the stated objectives, goals and American Heritage River Initiative program as outlined in the Federal Register.
When I am not acting as a county commissioner, or a RiverLink board member or as the chairman of the American Heritage River Initiative I am a small businessman. My wife and I own a travel agency. Over the years our business has grown as our region has been discovered. I know that the national recognition and the coordinated Federal services that will accompany the naming of the French Broad as an AHR will bring more people, tourists and businesses to our region. That's good for my business and good for business in general. I invite you to visit our French BroadI invite you join us as we applaud the French Broadand I urge you to support the American Heritage River Initiative.
Thank you for this opportunity to tout the French Broad and to show our regions support for the American Heritage River Initiative.
Page 207 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF GORDON ROSS, COOS COUNTY COMMISSIONER, COOS COUNTY, OREGON
In the opinion of this County Commissioner, Coos County is the most favored county in the most favored state in the union for some of the following reasons:
1. Seventy percent of our 1 million acres is privately owned;
2. We have no ''scenic rivers'' designated;
3. We have no Congressionally withdrawn wilderness areas;
4. We have consistently, since 1855, harvested more timber than any county in the State of Oregon;
5. We have more Coho Salmon per spawning mile than any county on the West Coast;
6. We have more Coho salmon than any county on the Pacific Coast;
7. We have more Coho Salmon than all other coastal Oregon counties combined; and
8. We have watershed associations partnering with up to 75 percent of the land owners and managers in the watershed, improving habitat conditions in a ''bottom up'' non-regulatory cooperative fashion.
I must say, in defense of our Federal partners on the local level, we have the best of cooperation, but that is where it ends. Almost without exception, Federal regulatory agencies and their regulatory mind set, stand in the way of progressive local problem solving. Agency interpretation of 1990 Food Security Act, the Clean Water Act, Wetland Regulations, etc. have been a constant impediment in getting through the permit process in order to do Coho habitat enhancement with our farm land cooperators. Projects ranging from sediment removal to ''side rearing ponds'' have been viewed as ''wetland violations'' and one cooperator was even charged with ''discharging pollutants into the waters of the United States.'' He had taken sediment from the previous year's storm out of the creek and placed it on his farm land.
Page 208 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What Coos County does not need is another Federal presence in our county or another Federal designation. It may be argued that the ''Navigator'' that would be hired would ''help'' us get through the Federal red tape. I would propose that it is time Congress take care of the ''navigation'' by getting rid of the red tape.
In conclusion, I wish to say that the ''bottoms up'' non-regulatory, cooperative approach that enlists the efforts of the private land owners can and does accomplish far more than another Federal presence in our community. I believe it was in Fiddler on the Roof where the rabbi was asked ''Is there a proper blessing for the Czar.? Yes he replied. God bless the czar and keep himfar far from us.!''
Please do not saddle us with any more Federal bureaucracy. We don't need any heritage river designations. We, at the local level, are best suited to protect our watersheds. We are the true ''guardians'' of our heritage, the caretakers of the future.
STATEMENT OF BILL DEVENY, STATE DIRECTOR, DISTRICT V, IDAHO FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee and visitors, thank you for the opportunity to present comments before this Committee. My name is Bill DeVeny. This written testimony is submitted in support of H.R. 1842 to terminate further development and implementation of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. I am a rancher from Riggins which is in Central Idaho. I am speaking in behalf of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation representing 47,000 member families in Idaho and also in behalf of myself.
Water is the lifeblood of Idaho, so the way it is managed and used is of concern to all of us in Idaho. Water is not only essential for all domestic uses, but has transformed the arid southern part of the state into productive, irrigated crop ground producing grain, onions, beans, potatoes, sugar beets, hay, mint, hops, small seeds, fruit, and numerous other crops on 3.4 million acres. The value of agricultural products produced including cattle is $35 to $45 billion. Water provides transportation from the Port of Lewiston to the Pacific Ocean at Portland, Oregon, for 2 million tons of cargo valued at $1.5 to $2.0 billion. Hydro-power generation of electricity provides an average of 70 percent of the electricity used in Idaho. Recreation, which is the third largest industry in the state, depends heavily on water resources including lakes, rivers and streams for a variety of uses such as rafting, boating, and fishing. Continued use of Idaho water is essential to the continued well being and quality of life for residents of this state.
Page 209 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One concern I have with the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is that it circumvents the right of states to manage and control water which is clearly a right of each individual state. The Idaho Constitution (as approved by Congress when Idaho entered the Union) expressly states: ''The use of all waters . . . (is) subject to the regulations and control of the state . . .''. Additionally, Idaho code 42-101 states: ''All the waters of the state, when flowing in their natural channels, including the waters of all natural springs and lakes within the boundaries of the state are declared to be the property of the state, whose duty it shall be to supervise their appropriation and allotment to those diverting the same therefrom for any beneficial purpose.'' The initiative would clearly be in direct violation of state law and the state constitution.
Another concern I have with the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is that nowhere in the Constitution of the United States is there authority for the Federal Government to become involved in the issue of water. The Constitution enumerates the powers granted to the Federal Government and reserves all others to the states or to individuals.
Furthermore, there is no authority for the Federal Government to expend funds for the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. The following is quoted from IMPRIMIS, ''Our Unconstitutional Congress,'' by Stephen Moore.
''The enumerated powers of the Federal Government to spend money are defined in the Constitution under Article 1, Section 8. These powers include the right to 'establish Post Offices and post roads; raise and support Armies; provide and maintain a Navy; declare War . . .' and to conduct a few other activities related mostly to national defense. No matter how long one searches, it is impossible to find in the Constitution and language that authorized at least 90 percent of the civilian programs that Congress crams into the Federal budget today.''
There certainly is nothing that allows the executive branch to initiate spending programs. My understanding has always been that spending originates with the House of Representatives.
Page 210 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The American Heritage Rivers Initiative is duplication of effort between other Federal, state, and local agencies: for example, the Corps of Engineers, Rural and Economic Community Development, Rural Development Councils, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Soil Conservation Districts to mention a few. There also are other rural initiative programs in effect and there is no reason to think that another Federal program can accomplish what these other programs are not doing, nor can any other Federal program cause existing Federal programs to be more efficient or effective. In reality, probably just the opposite is true.
A serious anomaly is created by the initiative when ''nongovernmental organizations'' are included to nominate rivers, and to ''coordinate delivery of Federal services'' and ''. . . restore, protect, and revitalize American Heritage Rivers that run through their communities.'' These nongovernmental organizations are the same organizations that do not respect any of the heritage of the American West. The heritage, at least in the West, relies first on the trappers (which have become virtually extinct), then miners, later grazers followed by farmers, next loggers, and recently recreationists. These nongovernmental organizations are the very ones that are trying to send the rest of us, grazers, farmers, loggers, and recreationists, the way of the trappersinto extinction. The nongovernmental organizations might tolerate a few recreationists who are hardy souls and want to brave a wilderness, but even that will require agency permission.
The American Heritage Rivers Initiative is in conflict with other Federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and does not comply with existing laws such as NEPA which requires an extensive environmental assessment for Federal actions or at least a finding of no significant impact. The initiative attempts to avoid the intent of Congress when it passed the Congressional Review of Agency Rulemaking Act by claiming this is not a rule. It also avoids, in fact violates, the Administrative Procedures Act.
The American Heritage Rivers Initiative is circumventing the authority of Congress and vesting authority in yet another bureaucracy. It introduces another layer of bureaucracy which we do not need. Agencies have become the ''fourth'' arm of government and this is detrimental. We need less bureaucracy, not more.
Page 211 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC From personal experience about two weeks before this hearing I was contacted by two Federal employees wanting to come on my private property to make a stream side survey to see what kind of fish were in a very small stream running through my property and what kind of habitat there was. When questioned why they wanted to make the survey, the employees would not tell me why they wanted to know, what they would do with the information, or by what authority they were collecting this information. From experience I am pretty sure that whatever they did would probably not be for my benefit and would probably be detrimental to my interests and well being and in the long run to the general public as well. This is simply an example of the intrusiveness of government that this new initiative would create more of.
The ''river communities'' that would be created by the American Heritage Rivers Initiative would have no jurisdictional basis and could, in fact, cross jurisdictional lines such as those between cities and counties and thus create hard feelings or confrontations. The results could be chaotic and entirely unpredictable situations.
When the prospect of grant money is added to a legislative proposal, local units of government have a hard time saying no. Several years ago I was asked to testify at a meeting of the Idaho Association of Counties concerning some of the heritage legislation that was being proposed by the late Morris Udall. Earlier versions of heritage legislation had been rejected, but when the counties were promised a share of the money which most certainly would have been ''pork,'' many county commissioners had a hard time saying no. They were willing to accept the money regardless of the consequences even though there might have been serious bad side effects from accepting this money. Fortunately there were enough commissioners present who could see the down side to the proposed legislation that the Association of Counties voted to reject the proposal. Since the ''river communities'' are not legally established units of government, the temptation to accept grant money might even be greater and put the private property owners within the area in jeopardy because of the obligations that would come associated with the grant money. There always are some obligations, even though hidden initially. Grant money is a ''carrot and stick'' approach. The promise of grant money is the carrot. Any agency is made up of human beings, and they can be very unfriendly, then the stick is wielded. In an initiative such as this one there are myriad opportunities for favoritism. This initiative is particularly susceptible to these failings, and to creating special favors for selected people or groups of people.
Page 212 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Another concern I have is for the position that would be created of ''river navigator.'' This would be yet one more unelected official who would have untold powers over the rights, lives, and livelihoods of citizens of the area involved yet individuals impacted would have no recourse for unfavorable actions or decisions. Local control and decision making will be further diluted. For instance in Idaho, this could interfere with the Snake River Basin Adjudication of water rights that is taking place for the Snake River System. This is a legal proceeding.
Once a river is designated, the designation becomes permanent and there are no provisions to reverse this designation or for individuals or groups of individuals to opt out of the program. The definition of those who can propose a designation would allow people from entirely out of the area to control local issues. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative is yet another tool for use by environmental extremists to stop the wise use of our lands. This is an issue about the control of resources, Separation of Powers, State Sovereignty, private property rights, and freedom from unnecessary and harmful Federal intrusion.
In my view the American Heritage Rivers Initiative is contrary to every thing I have ever learned about our form of government. We are a nation of laws. The legislative branch is to create the laws, the executive branch is to implement and to enforce the laws, and the judiciary branch is to interpret the lawsnot to make the laws. The American Heritage Rivers Initiative is contrary to each of those tenets.
This country is founded on several important principles not the least of which is the right to own private property. One of the primary reasons many, if not most, immigrants came to this country was the freedom to own and control land outright. This initiative is just another chink in taking away private property rights and a step toward Federal land use control. I know of no instances where the government does a better job in the long run of managing property than private property owners themselves.
Page 213 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We need less government control, not more, so I encourage you to do whatever is in your power to curtail the American Heritage Rivers Initiative. Withholding funding as proposed in H.R. 1842 is certainly a step in the right direction.
We do not want another Federal designation. We do not want a greater Federal presence. We do not want enhanced Federal control over our waters. And we do not want the government to come up with yet another way to spend taxpayer dollars.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide these comments.
STATEMENT OF PETER SAMUEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SCHUYLKILL RIVER GREENWAY AND HERITAGE CORRIDOR
On behalf of the Schuylkill River Greenway and Heritage Corridor, its partners and community organizations, I want to thank you and the members of this Committee for the opportunity to provide testimony in opposition to H.R. 1842. We are opposed to H.R. 1842 because we believe the American Heritage River Initiative will provide opportunities and benefits to our region in Southeastern Pennsylvania and others like ours around the country.
The Schuylkill River Greenway Association is a membership organization which has been working with citizens and community groups and a host of other partners up and down the river for almost 25 years to promote the river resources and advocate the protection of open space. In the 1990's we went through a process to develop a plan for the Schuylkill as a Heritage Corridor. In 1995 the river corridor was designated by Governor Ridge as Pennsylvania's seventh Heritage Park. Thus the Association expanded its mission to include conservation of the historic and cultural resources within the watershed and a focus on economic development.
We in the Schuylkill Watershedincluding conservationists, elected officials, municipal governments, landowners, recreationalists, industry owners and moreare very much interested in the American Heritage River Initiative because it will provide an excellent chance for the widest range of people to take new pride in their river. It will enable us to work with the Federal Government as a partner in efforts to improve and restore the resources associated with the Schuylkill.
Page 214 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The goal of the American Heritage Rivers initiative is to support communities within existing laws and regulations, by providing them with better information, tools and resources and by encouraging local efforts deserving of special recognition. This is precisely the kind of assistance the Schuylkill River Corridor needs.
We believe that our community knows best what resources will benefit us the most and would like to see the government prioritize Federal spending based on that community led process, and to help people better understand how to access existing Federal resources.
Before I explain further why and how this proposed new initiative will help the people and resources directly in the Schuylkill River Valley I would like to describe my area of the country. I will discuss our efforts to create a heritage corridor based on wide ranging partnerships, what works already been accomplished, what the larger shared vision is for the region and there, how we see this new government initiative fitting into the entire picture.
BACKGROUND ON THE SCHUYLKILL
The Schuylkill River flows through some of the most historically significant land in the United States. The natural resources of the region and the people who live and work there have helped weave the social, political, economic and industrial fabric of Pennsylvania and the nation.
The river itself extends 128 miles from the mining region of Schuylkill County through four other counties and into the city of Philadelphia where it links up with the Delaware River. It comprises three national parks, many acres of state park and game lands, numerous county parks, arboretums, wildlife preserves as well as widespread residential development, agriculture, industrial towns and private lands.
William Penn established his colony relatively late in the history of European colonization of North America's seaboard, but the rapid growth of the colony soon made Pennsylvania a region of major substance and significance within the world.
Page 215 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC By the 1770's Philadelphia stood as the political, economic and cultural center of colonial America. The city's strategic location, wealth, industrial and commercial importance, large and cosmopolitan population combined to make it the hub of America's revolutionary activity. It was the site of the First and Second Continental Congresses and the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence. It was along the Schuylkill, in the winter of 1778, that General Washington and his troops camped in Valley Forge before the turning point in the Revolutionary War.
By 1900, the use of anthracite coal to power industry caused a total transformation in the valley. The region was still dominated by Philadelphia, but with many urban and industrial centers, both large and small, thriving and interconnected by railroads. During this period, the entire river valley functioned as an interlocking series of industrial engines, and Philadelphia became a national leader in industry.
The vast growth and development of communities and industries along the river was not without consequence. By 1927 it was estimated that there was 38 million tons of coal silt in the river. The Schuylkill was so polluted that it had essentially lost its value as a riverthe canal system was no longer navigable, the river was spurned as a recreational resource and as a supply of drinking water it had become seriously degraded.
The river has been making a slow come back. In the 1970's the Schuylkill River Greenway Association was formed to begin advocating the protection and health of the river and its tributaries. The Schuylkill was designated by the state legislature as Pennsylvania's first scenic river in 1977.
In the spring of 1995, after an extensive three year planning process involving representatives from each of the five counties and the public and private sectors, a Management Action Plan for the Schuylkill Heritage Corridor was completed. Later that year the Schuylkill was designated by Governor Tom Ridge as Pennsylvania's seventh State Heritage Park.
Page 216 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Schuylkill River Greenway Association which had many years of experience working with partners throughout the corridor, became the organization to implement the Heritage Corridor Plan. The SRGA adopted a revised and expanded mission for improving the river, increasing recreational opportunities, saving historic structures, encouraging regional cooperation, attracting tourism and generating jobs and permanent economic benefits.
These actions mirror steps that have been taken in hundreds of communities. People across the nation have begun to realize the promise of heritage tourism. They are discovering how well the preservation of historic, cultural and natural resources combines with the development and marketing of tourism to sustain local economies and ways of life. Resource preservation and economic viability are not mutually exclusive but compatible and mutually enhancing. It has been recognized that multiple management and funding sources are the most appropriate method of preserving and interpreting the nationally important resources and themes.
The Greenway and Heritage Corridor has committed to work towards the following goals:
Be the keeper of the visioncoordinating, managing and implementing programs projects and activities within the corridor that serve to celebrate the heritage and preserve and enhance quality of life
Linking and Leveragingworking between and among agencies, attractions and organizations in support of the vision, mission and goals of the Schuylkill Heritage Corridor
Serve as a resourceproviding leadership and guidance in educational, historical, financial and marketing efforts and technical assistance in training, interpretation, and community involvement
Page 217 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPROJECTS OF THE GREENWAY AND HERITAGE CORRIDOR
Projects range from the creation of trails built on abandoned rail corridors, the construction or improvement of trail bridges that cross streams and roads, development of riverside parks and open space, creation of canoe launches, historic conservation and interpretation projects, development of visitor information and a wayfinding system, and the implementation of an educational curriculum plan.
Projects throughout the five county area in Historic Conservation and Interpretation include:
Planning for the renovation of the historic Phoenixville Foundry building in Phoenixville to become a visitor center which focuses on the steel and iron making heritagein association with Phoenixville Area Development Corporation
The Reconstruction of the Schuylkill Navigation Canal Lock 60 in Port Providencein association with the Schuylkill Canal Association
Interpretive Planning and Exhibit Design to develop visitor center exhibits to describe the agricultural history in the Schuylkill Valleyin association with the Peter Wentz Farmstead
Development of a plan for reuse of the historic Tamaqua Train Station in downtown Tamaqua for use as a visitor reception pointin association with the Save Our Station group
Renovation of an historic building in downtown Reading to be used as a heritage corridor visitor centerin association with the Berks County Conservancy
Development of Engineering Plans for the restoration of the historic water wheel at the Fairmount Waterworks in Philadelphiain association with the Philadelphia Water Department and Fairmount Park
Page 218 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Assistance in the stabilization of the historic Continental Powder Worksin association with East Vincent Township
It was recognized early on that there would need to be a broad range of support among financial, community, educational, business, and government leaders and foundations and existing partners in order to balance programmatic goals and objectives and achieve financial stability within the organization. This diversification of support allows the organization to develop flexible funding programs that strengthens the corridor and ensures its long-term success.
HOW THE AMERICAN HERITAGE RIVER INITIATIVE CAN HELP OUR WORK
Since I became the Director of the Schuylkill Corridor I have realized that there are Federal agencies in our region which have programs that could provide assistance to our various communities. The Army Corps of Engineers has indicated an interest in rehabilitation of desilting basins into wetlands, the Environmental Protection Agency may have funds for restoration projects on the tributaries, the National Park Service could provide greenway and trail planning, Fish and Wildlife may be involved in the development of fish ladders along the many dams. And there are probably many others. How would I know?
My information about these potential programs has been haphazard, helter skelter. If the Schuylkill River is designated as an American Heritage River, information about all of these programs would be made available as a coordinated package of services. The Federal Government would begin to work for us.
People have called for a better, smarter and more coordinated way to work with the Federal Government. The American Heritage River Initiative seeks to coordinate these existing authorities in a more efficient and complementary way and proposes that assistance from the Federal Government will come at the request of the community. Once a river is designated, a team of Federal agency representatives will be available to help the community determine the role for Federal assistance. The committee will look for opportunities to reduce bureaucracy, streamline services and remove policy obstacles.
Page 219 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is no existing system to provide communities with a coordinated system of Federal services. In fact there is so much lack of coordination that it is very possible that within one very small agency such as the National Park Service that more than one department or division could be involved with the same project and never know what the other is doing.
If what is being proposed by the American Heritage Rivers Initiative comes to fruition, it will be a major advance for government. I am not talking about more government, more regulations, more interference, I am talking about coordination, organization and responsiveness. I am talking about better government, ideal government. One that is there when you want it to be and one that provides a coordinated strategy of services that will be truly helpful.
The American Heritage River Initiative will allow for the proper recognition of the collective contributions of ordinary people in significant regions of our nation. The Schuylkill Heritage Corridor provides a framework for people to take pride in their communities, understand their history and work together to enhance the quality of life for their children. We are treating our history and heritage as one of our greatest resources. The American Heritage River Initiative will allow us to build on that and ensure that the present and future is successfully linked to our past.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify here today.
STATEMENT OF REGINALD WILLIAM NELSON
Mr. Chairman, members of this Committee, ladies and gentlemen:
My name is Reginald William Nelson and I live at 1820 New Market Road in eastern Henrico County, just outside of the City of Richmond, Virginia. I am a full-time farmer. I farm land within sight of the James River and practice responsible management of my farmland to ensure the safety of my livelihood for the perpetuation of my farming, and the cleanliness of the environment, as my father and grandfather before me have done. My farmland is just beyond the urban boundaries of the City of Richmond.
Page 220 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I and many of my neighbors are concerned that President Clinton's ''Executive Order'' creating the ''American Heritage Rivers Initiative'' will further denigrate our ability to effectively produce crops from our fields and use our private property as guaranteed by our United States Constitution.
This ''Initiative'' addresses ''river communities.'' Those folks lobbying hard for this Federal bureaucratic program have been defining the boundaries of this Initiative to include all land within a river's watershed. That is a broad and inclusive definition. Along the James River, its watershed includes 10,102 square miles, one fourth of the land base of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
What we are sure of, is that this ''Initiative'' intends to consume more than the riparian properties adjacent to any designated river.
Further, this ''Initiative'' addresses the concerns of those people who consider themselves to be ''stakeholders'' in this initiative. They appear to be many, varying ''special interest groups''not among them, appears to be the affected individual private property owner!
There is no provision in this ''Initiative'' for even the individual notification of all property owners which are to be included in any such ''designation.'' That is appalling to me!However, from my experience over the recent years with the Department of the Interior, this is the Federal bureaucracy functioning in its regular mode of operation.
Having worked for several years to try to gain local control over the National Park Service's boundary, condemnation authority and land use control over as much as 250,000 acres in and around Richmond, (including my property), and observing the bureaucratic attitude to ignore residents and property owners' requests and recommendationsI have had to learn how this mushrooming, land-usurping predator works. It continually creates additional layers of Federal bureaucrats to confuse the taxpaying citizen to slowly, but surely, diminish the private property owner's Constitutional rights to use his own property. Instead of helping the private property owner, the Federal bureaucracy works to use private property ''For the Good of All'' such as that non-owner ''stakeholder'' I spoke of earlier.
Page 221 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ladies and gentlemen, I have no business being here before you today. I should be at home in my fieldson my combinewhere I am presently at the peak of my corn and soybean harvesting. I usually spend twelve (12) to sixteen (16) hours a day this time of year away from my familyworking, farmingto support my familyand they know an understand that. My two young daughters were confused that instead, today, I have traveled to, and am sitting in, a Congressional Hearing Room to tell you about the harm this ''American Heritage Rivers Initiative'' will cause for me and innumerable Americans.
I and my neighbors regularly elect a Congressman from our home district; mine is The Honorable Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.
Congressman Bliley understands the considerable economic harm this new Federal program will cause to me and my neighbors as we go about our business of farming and using our private property without additional Federal bureaucratic intervention or accountability;and yet, this ''Initiative'' can designate and begin appointing a ''River Navigator'' to ''oversee'' the activities within a designated community and a river's watershedeven over the objection of the duly elected Congressional Representative! This is unconstitutional and just plain wrong!
As a farmer I already know about excessive regulation. I must comply with and file a ''Nutrient Management Plan,'' an ''Integrated Pest Management Plan,'' a ''Chesapeake Bay Preservation Plan,'' and I am also required to record the pesticides I use in my farming, as well as assuring that I am in compliance with local land use regulations.
And yet, I am here to tell you that none of those regulations has changed my family's farming practices or the methods by which my family grow crops. We have always been responsible guardians of our land and the environment. What it has changedis the time and costs involved in reporting back to these unelected, government bureaucrats, whose job is perpetuated by my being required to spend time at my computer reporting minute details of what I have done to grow my crops, instead of either: (1) working my fields, or (2) sharing precious time with my wife and children.
Page 222 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If this ''Initiative'' is truly voluntary and nonregulatory, why is there to be a Federal presence? Why are there Federal agencies to be involved? Why? Because, clearly, there will be additional regulations placed on all properties within a designationwritten by nameless, faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats. If this ''Initiative'' is truly ''honorary,'' there would be no Federal involvement.
The reason I am here to speak in favor of H.R. 1842 is that I fear this Presidential Executive Order's effect on my farm, my family, my neighbors, my community and our diminishing Constitutional Rights.
Neither my Senators nor my Representative were given an opportunity to vote their approval of this Federal program. They were not a part of the process of creating it. They were not given my right for them to vote on this invasive and expensive Federal program which will add an additional layer of bureaucracy through which I must weave to earn a living for my family.
There is no reason that localities along any river cannot work together to accomplish what this ''Initiative'' purports to do. No Federal program is necessary or serves a constructive purpose.
Along our James River, the localities are meeting and finding creative methods to promote the river, but, at this time, the Federal Government is not involvedor in control. And ''in control'' is what it wants to be. But that is neither necessarynor desirable.
Years ago the James River was seriously polluted. Today it is recoveringwithout Federal intervention. It is not neededor wantednow. The cost for this program is to come from the resources within the 12 Federal agencies already identified to be involved in this Presidential enacted ''Initiative''from agency budgets reportedly already stretched beyond their ability to function appropriately. Will funds be take from roadway repair projects? Will they be taken from environmentally sensitive clean-up programs to fund this ''Initiative''? Clearly, the burden of the cost of this added layer of bureaucracy will be passed to the over-taxed American taxpayerof which I am one.
Page 223 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This ''American Heritage Rivers Initiative'' was stated to be created to ''preserve, protect and restore rivers and their adjacent communities.'' The vagueness and imprecision of these words will allow the establishedand ''yet to be established''bureaucracies to use Federal controls on private use of privately owned property. This strikes fear in the hearts and minds of property owners anywhere near any river! And so it should! ''The devil is in the details!'' And we have not been given those to review in advance of the establishment of this Federal bureaucratic program! They will, instead, be determined at some later time by those nameless, faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats!
Any citizen ever hoping to own property should fear such authority for unchecked Federal control!
This new Federal power will be used to impose the will of the Federal bureaucracy on local jurisdictions, usurping the powers Constitutionally ''reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.''
Any intelligent person knows that, historically, development began around these flowing conduits. Rivers wereand area natural mode of transportation for relocation and trade. And, of course, there is usually fertile farmland near and adjacent to rivers. So, with no limits, controls, guidelines or ''opt-out provisions'' in this Federal programnot unlike any other trumped-up ''historic'' or ''heritage'' designationsvirtually any river in the United States would qualify for control by this central, Federal bureaucratthe ''River Navigator''who could impose great and costly restrictions on local government land use control.
I bring to you today a different knowledge and perspective from your other speakers. I have had the unfortunate necessity to research and learn, together with my neighbors, the details and effect of a ''historic designation'' under the Historic Preservation Act. We were all under attack by the National Park Service in our area, and were misleadingly assured that such a designation, even over our objection, had no effect on the use or value of our land. Well, that's what they would like citizens to believe! But it is absolutely untrue!
Page 224 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This Presidential Executive Order creating the ''American Heritage Rivers Initiative'' expressly states that the Department of the Interior shall be one of those Federal agencies which shall ''identify all technical tools, including those developed for purposes other than river conservation, that can be applied to river protection. . . .'' My community and others around my state know all too well how that Section 106 Review Process of the Historic Preservation Act can curtail any changes in the area. Progress stopsnot just damage. If the members of this Committee are not aware of this Act and its Section 106 Review processand the far reaching effect it can and has had on communities around the nationplease contact me or have your staff members look into the matter. It has the propensity to bring this nation to a halt.
I am fortunate that my local jurisdiction, Henrico County, Virginia, is in strong opposition to the designation of the river threatening my community, and is preparing a letter to be sent to all of our Congressional delegation stating and clarifying their opposition. I would like to provide a copy of that letter to this Committee to be attached to my testimony, as soon as it is available.
This Presidential-created program, however, does not clarify that my community can be saved by my local government's refusal to approve of, or request, the designationwe may still be forced into the designation by the request of other more-naiAE4ve . . . to say nothing of it being forced upon the unnotified, individual private property owners!
There are no guarantees under this programexcept that we have no guarantees that our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to representation and private property protections haveand will befurther violated by this program.
I ask againif this ''Initiative'' is truly honorary and voluntary, why is there a Federal presence? Why is there no property owner notification? Why is it not, instead, required that the property owner request the designation in writing and have the right to quit the program at any time?
Page 225 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Why? Is it because these protections from our Federal Government were never intended to be a part of this program? Because land use control being removed from local control was the primary intent from its inception?
I believe it was and still is.
Mr. Chairman, and members of this Committee, I appreciate this opportunity to explain my personal concerns about the ''American Heritage Rivers Initiative,'' and I enthusiastically request your strong support for H.R. 1842 so that I may go home and pursue my livelihood the anticipation of no further Federal manipulation and regulation of my land and my community. Such an invasive and controlling program should be created only by the will of the peopleand then must be in compliance with the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution!
Please take action to stop this oppressive, dictatorially-created Federal program by passing and enforcing H.R. 1842.
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