SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC54691 l
HEARING ON H.R. 15, H.R. 150, AND H.R. 154
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS AND PUBLIC LANDS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
H.R. 15, A BILL TO DESIGNATE A PORTION OF THE OTAY MOUNTAIN REGION OF CALIFORNIA AS WILDERNESS; H.R. 150, A BILL TO AMEND THE ACT POPULARLY KNOWN AS THE RECREATION AND PUBLIC PURPOSES ACT TO AUTHORIZE DISPOSAL OF CERTAIN PUBLIC LANDS OR NATIONAL FOREST LANDS TO LOCAL EDUCATION AGENCIES FOR USE FOR ELEMENTARY OR SECONDARY SCHOOLS, INCLUDING PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES; H.R. 154, A BILL TO PROVIDE FOR THE COLLECTION OF FEES FOR THE MAKING OF MOTION PICTURES, TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS, AND SOUND TRACKS IN NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM AND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM UNITS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
FEBRUARY 4, 1999, WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 1062
Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/house
Committee address: http://www.house.gov/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
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
GREG WALDEN, Oregon
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
MIKE SIMPSON, Idaho
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
GEORGE MILLER, California
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
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-CHRISTENSEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
JAY INSLEE, Washington
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
TOM UDALL, New Mexico
MARK UDALL, Colorado
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah, Chairman
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
ELTON, GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
RICK HILL, Montana
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
DONNA CHRISTIAN-CHRISTENSEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
JAY INSLEE, Washington
TOM UDALL, New Mexico
MARK UDALL, Colorado
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
ALLEN FREEMYER, Counsel
TODD HULL, Professional Staff
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLIZ BIRNBAUM, Democratic Counsel
GARY GRIFFITH, Professional Staff
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held February 4, 1999
Statements of Members:
Bilbray, Hon. Brian, a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Prepared statement of
Hansen, Hon. James, a Representative in Congress from the State of Utah
Prepared statement of
Hayworth, Hon. J.D., a Representative in Congress from the State of Arizona
Prepared statement of
Hefley, Hon. Joel, a Representative in Congress from the State of Colorado
Prepared statement of
Statements of witnesses:
Bigelow, Clarence, County Manager, Apache County, Arizona
Prepared statement of
Brouha, Paul, Associate Deputy Chief, U.S. Forest Service
Prepared statement of
Fry, Tom, Acting Director, Bureau of Land Management
Prepared statement of
Lee, Arthur N., Supervisor, District 3, Apache County, Arizona
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Saunders, Stephen, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
Prepared statement of
Silva, David, Principal, Alpine Elementary School, Apache County, Arizona
Prepared statement of
Valenti, Jack, President and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.
Prepared statement of
Voorhees, Philip H., Director of National Programs, National Parks and Conservation Association
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
Association of National Advertisers, prepared statement of
Beck, Michael, San Diego Director, Endangered Habitats League, prepared statement of
Hunt, Frances A., Director, BLM Programs of The Wilderness Society, prepared statement of
Perlman, Victor S., Managing Director and General Counsel of American Society of Media Photographers, prepared statement of
Text of H.R. 15
Text of H.R. 150
Text of H.R. 154
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1999
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on National Parks
and Public Lands,
Committee on Resources,
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWashington, DC.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:01 a.m., in Room 1324, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. James Hansen [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
Mr. HANSEN. It is time for the meeting to come to order; however, our first three witnesses haven't walked in the door yet, which makes it just a tad difficult. So, if it is all right with everybody, we will just wait just a moment. If they don't show up in a couple minutes, we will start with the first panel.
While we are doing that, I welcome the Ranking Member, Carlos Romero-Barceló from Puerto Rico, a very fine member of the Committee, and it has always been a pleasure to work with the gentleman from Puerto Rico, and I will look forward to working you through this next term.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It has always been a great pleasure working with you. I know you to be a fair person and I look forward to working with you together on this Subcommittee.
Mr. HANSEN. So far, we have Mr. Udall as the only member who has come from far out, and we welcome Mr. Udall as a member of this Committee. We will look forward to working with you, and I spent many years working with your father who was an outstanding individual. Every time I think of Udall, Arizona just pops in my mind for some reason.
Mr. UDALL. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I am looking forward to being here as well. I think you know the Udalls are of Mormon stock, and my great grandfather came down from Utah and settled in northern Arizona, so we do have connections.
Mr. HANSEN. We won't hold that against you.
Mr. UDALL. Please don't.
One of the reasons I think we did so well in Arizona politically is my great-great grandfather was a polygamist, and he had 15 wives, and if you ran the numbers, there are more than 1 million Udall descendants. You figure there are only 600,000 people in a congressional district, you might have pretty good odds.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. I understand that if Mormons can't convert them, they breed them, so it is one way or the other
I don't have the privilege of coming from that kind of stock, but my wife had the same type of thing. In fact, her father came from a polygamist family in Montpelier, Idaho. When did you leave Arizona, may I ask?
Mr. UDALL. My mother is a native of Colorado; my father, you may remember, played basketball for the Nuggets. They met in the late forties in Denver and came back to Arizona, and when I got out of school, college that is, I moved back to Colorado in the early seventies. And I have, I am proud to tell you, on my mother's side of the family some people who served in public life thereRepublicans as well. So, you know, there is some hope.
Mr. HANSEN. I do know some Udall Republicans just like there are some Babbitts that are Republicans in Arizona.
And speaking of Arizona, we are grateful to see the gentleman from Arizona, Mr. J.D. Hayworth, and the meeting will come to order.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Mr. HANSEN. This is the first meeting of the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Land for the 106th Congress, and I would just like to take this opportunity to welcome our new members. We have talked to Mr. Udall; I don't see any other new members here at the present time. We are happy to have you with us, and we look forward to working with you.
This morning we will hear testimony on three bills: H.R. 15, to designate a portion of the Otay Mountain region of California as wilderness; H.R. 150, to amend the act properly known as the Recreation and Public Purpose Act to authorize disposal of certain public lands or national forest lands to local education agencies for use as elementary or secondary schools, including public charter schools, and H.R. 154, to provide for the collection of fees for the making of motion pictures, television production, and soundtracks in National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System units.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The first bill, introduced by Congressman Bilbray of California, would create the Otay Mountain Wilderness Area in southern California. This area is right on the U.S.-Mexico border and contains several sensitive species, including the Mexican flannel bush and the Tecate Cypress. The Otay Mountain Area has good opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, and its preservation is very important to people of San Diego County.
I have heard a few concerns that this bill might need to be finetuned to avoid blowing a hole in our border. I share those concerns; I want to assure people that the subcommittee will do whatever it needs to do in order to ensure that border patrol and drug interdiction activities will continue in this area.
We had the same issue arise during the 103rd Congress when we passed the California Desert Wilderness Protection Act, and I am confident that we can reach a similar solution here that will satisfy all parties concerned.
The second bill is H.R. 150 introduced by Mr. Hayworth of Arizona. H.R. 150, the Education Land Grant Act, would amend the Recreation and Public Act which covers the Bureau of Land Management public domain land to include Forest Service lands and would provide for an expedited review of the RPPA applications from local education agencies.
I commend Mr. Hayworth for introducing this bill again. This is a good idea that would help numerous rural communities. As it stands now, anytime we want to convey national forest lands to a community for a school, we have to come in here and push a bill all the way through Congress. H.R. 150 would give the Forest Service the statutory authority to make these decisions administratively.
The final bill we will hear today is H.R. 154 which was introduced by a fellow member of this subcommittee, Mr. Hefley, from Colorado. H.R. 154 would repeal the existing Department of the Interior regulatory prohibition on collecting fee units at the National Park System and the National Wildlife Refuge System for the use of these areas for commercial film production.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This bill also authorizes the Secretary to establish a fee schedule using a number of relevant factors, such as the number of people on site and the duration of the filming activities. However, the bill would not affect newsreel or television news activities.
I want to commend Mr. Hefley on reintroducing this bill which we also heard last year. Correcting the regulatory prohibition on collecting fees from the film industry for using our national treasures as backdrops for their production is long overdue, and I am glad to have this bill before us once again.
I want to thank all the witnesses for being here today to testify, including Mr. Jack Valenti, the well-known president of the Motion Pictures Association of America.
And with that said, I will turn to the ranking member of the committee, Mr. Romero-Barcelo, for any comments that he may have.
[The statement of Mr. Hansen follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES V. HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Good morning. The Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands will come to order.
This is the first meeting of the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands for the 106th Congress and I would just like to take this opportunity to welcome our new members. We are happy to have you with us and we look forward to working with you.
This morning we will hear testimony on three bills:H.R. 15, to designate a portion of the Otay (OAE8 Tie) Mountain region of California as wilderness.H.R. 150, to amend the Act popularly known as the Recreation and Public Purposes Act to authorize disposal of certain public lands or national forest lands to local education agencies for use as elementary or secondary schools, including public charter schoolsand H.R. 154, to provide for the collection of fees for the making of motion pictures, television productions, and sound tracks in National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System units.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The first bill, H.R. 15, introduced by Congressman Bilbray of California, would create the Otay Mountain Wilderness Area in southern California. The area is right on the U.S.Mexico border and contains several sensitive species, including the Mexican flannel bush, and the Tecáte Cypress. The Otay mountain area has good opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation and its preservation is very important to the people of San Diego County.
I have heard a few concerns that this bill might need to be fine tuned to avoid blowing a hole in our border. I share those concerns, and I want to assure people that the Subcommittee will do whatever it needs to do in order to insure that border patrol and drug interdiction activities will continue in this area. We had the same issue arise during the 103rd Congress when we passed the California Desert Wilderness Act, and I am confidant that we can reach a similar solution here that will satisfy all parties concerned.
The second bill is H.R. 150, introduced by Mr. Hayworth of Arizona. H.R. 150, the Education Land Grant Act, would amend the Recreation and Public Purposes Act (RPPA), which covers Bureau of Land Management public domain lands, to include Forest Service lands, and would provide for an expedited review of RPPA applications from local education agencies.
I commend Mr. Hayworth for introducing this bill again. This is a good idea that would help numerous rural communities. As it stands now, any time we want to convey National Forest land to a community for a school, we have to come in here and push a bill all the way through Congress. H.R. 150 would give the Forest Service the statutory authority to make these decisions administratively.
The final bill we will hear today is H.R. 154 which was introduced by a fellow member of the Subcommittee, Joel Hefley from Colorado. H.R. 154 would repeal the existing Department of the Interior regulatory prohibition on collecting fees at units of the National Park System and the National Wildlife Refuge System for the use of these areas for commercial film productions. This bill also authorizes the Secretary to establish a fee schedule using a number of relevant factors, such as the number of people on site and the duration of the filming activities. However, the bill would not affect newsreel or television news activities.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to commend Mr. Hefley on reintroducing this bill which we also heard last year. Correcting the regulatory prohibition on collecting fees from the film industry for using our national treasures as backdrops for their production is long overdue and I'm glad to have this bill before us once again.
I want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today to testify on these bills, including Mr. Jack Valenti, the well-known president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and it is, indeed, a pleasure to be here today at the first meeting of the year of the National Parks and Public Lands Subcommittee. We look forward to working with you on the many issues of the Subcommittee that we will likely face in this 106th Congress.
Although we are in a new Congress, the legislation before the Subcommittee today are not new measures. All three bills we are hearing today were considered and marked up by the Subcommittee in the last Congress. H.R. 15 the Otay Mountain Wilderness bill reflects a bill that was marked up by the Subcommittee in the last Congress. However, we understand that there are still some questions as to the effect of the language of section 6(b) of the bill which I am confident will be answered and addressed during this hearing and during the process.
H.R. 150, although we considered a similar bill last Congress, the bill that was introduced does not reflect what was adopted by the Resources Committee last Congress. The administration has concerns for the legislation that they will elaborate on in their testimony.
And with regards to H.R. 154, the film fee bill, we are not aware of any controversy associated with the legislation. The bill reflects language we worked out last Congress with all interested parties.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the attendance of the witnesses today and look forward to their testimony.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. I appreciate the gentleman's comments. We will start out with our three Members of Congress on the bills that are being considered. Gentlemen, we would like to point out to you that we have got three panels following your testimony and, the gentleman from California, the gentleman from Arizona, when you have completed your testimony, we would be very pleased to have you join on us on the dais, whatever your druthers would be.
Mr. Bilbray, we will start with you.
STATEMENT OF HON. BRIAN BILBRAY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. BILBRAY. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for giving me a chance to be able to address your Subcommittee on behalf of the Otay Mountain Wilderness Act, H.R. 15. The bill is identical to that which was approved by your Subcommittee last year. Let me just tell you we have been working with all parties involved. We have the strong support from the Federal contingency, including the Border Patrol; the California Department of Forestry, the San Diego Board of Supervisors, which represents the 2.8 million million that live just to the north of this area, and the San Diego Association of Governments that represents all the local cities and government agencies in the region, and the Endangered Habitat League, a respected local environmental group. I also want to thank the senior Senator from California, Senator Feinstein, for her years of working to make sure that management of this area was balanced and effective from all sides of the issue.
I would like to point out that the concerns which have been expressed related to the border region are ones that do not go past me at all. As I think that you are aware, outside of maybe Silvestre Reyes or Duncan Hunter, there are not very many other Members of Congress who have been as involved or as committed to border security and border control.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think, though, here with H.R. 15, we are able to prove that by working all the agencies together and naturally being sensitive to both missions, we can fulfill the mission of preservation of a wilderness area and the issue of border patrol.
And let me just say, quite frankly, Mr. Chairman, that not only are the two missions not mutually exclusive, they are essential to each other. There is no way to preserve the habitat potential for the Tecate Cypress and the other endangered species in the area without successfully controlling the immigration issues in the area.
Now, we have extensive experience in this region. If you will refer to your map, if you look down on the extreme left-hand corner of the map of what is showing the San Diego County/Imperial County region, there is the Tijuana Estuarine Research Preserve in that corner. That is the most protected land under our designation, practically, in the United States, and we have been able to work with Border Patrol and the Department of Interior to not only preserve the habitat in that area but also to control illegal immigration, and the two agencies have worked together consistently in that area. Otay Mountain is the next step in showing that immigration control and wildlife preservation are both essential and mutually compatible.
Now, I just had a discussion with the regional director of the Border Patrol yesterday about this item. They are very comfortable with this bill, Mr. Chairman, and if you are concerned that it could cause some problems for Border Patrol, let me refer you to the onsite map and the references to the cherry stemmed roads. We have learned that we need to have the ability, if necessary, to put structures up along the border, but we need proper access and communication. Border patrol and BLM have completed a road that runs right along the border, and, if you notice, the wilderness area does not include the area actually on the border. That gives the Border Patrol the ability to build structures if need be, and to maintain their access roads. On either side of the cherry stemmed roads they have a 100 feet, which, if a physical structure is found to be needed in the future, can be accommodated, and the space is there to be able to do that.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Not just that, but this will be one of the few places along the border where we will have not just one, but the ability to place two lines of defense directly on the border, and the two cherry stemmed roadsyou can tell there is one on the border and then there is one about a half a mile to a mile north of therethat gives the Border Patrol the level of confidence to be able to sincerely tell me yesterday that everything looks great. They are very comfortable with this proposal. In fact, they think this proposal will help to resolve the management difficulties it had in the past.
I would refer you to a letter by the Department of Interior; Secretary Babbitt has stated in this letter, dated February 3rd, 1999, that the Administration is in strong support of H.R. 15.
And, so I just leave you with thisI think we have worked it out; we have gotten all sides, everybody working together. Frankly, I think the history of cooperation along this part of the border has been more than productive, and I think with H.R. 15, we have been able to build on that, and I would like to take the next step. I hope it will set an example for more action, appropriate and balanced action, east of this area and elsewhere. So, I guess we are all learning as we are doing it and moving forward.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back my time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bilbray follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. BRIAN P. BILBRAY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this hearing, and for the opportunity to testify before your Subcommittee on H.R. 15, the Otay Mountain Wilderness Act of 1999. I appreciate the attention of the Subcommittee to this important legislation, which would designate as wilderness a special and unique natural resource along our southern border with Mexico.
Mr. Chairman, as a lifelong resident of San Diego, I am very aware of the unique natural assets which are found at Otay Mountain, most of which is presently managed as a wilderness study area. This management has in large part been focused on conservation and enhancement of the region's plant and animal life, including unique scenic, cultural, and geologic assets, in addition to the wilderness values found at Otay. Historically, Otay's Mountain's close proximity to the U.S. Mexican border has also made it a flashpoint for the ongoing immigration control and narcotics interdiction efforts of the United States Border Patrol.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am pleased to be able to report to you the high level of support which exists for H.R. 15 at the local, state, and Federal level. Secretary Bruce Babbitt recently toured Otay Mountain, and while I was unfortunately unable to accompany him, he was clearly impressed with its natural beauty, drawing comparisons to such crown jewels as Yellowstone and Yosemite, and is very supportive of this legislation. In fact, I'm told that he said he hoped to be able to return to Otay Mountain this year to ''pop a champagne cork'' in celebration of enactment of this legislation.
Local support, which is so critical to any successful resource management plan, is considerablethe San Diego County Board of Supervisors (on which I served prior to coming to Congress) will meet on February 17th to consider a resolution in support of H.R. 15 that is expected to pass unanimously; the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is also on record in support, as is the Endangered Habitats League, a respected regional conservation group.
I also want to thank my California colleague, our Senior Senator, for her ongoing active role in and support of this issue. Senator Feinstein has in the last several years played a key role in facilitating increased access by to Otay Mountain by the Border Patrol, which has resulted in dramatic reductions in illegal activity along this border region. She deserves a great deal of credit for the progress which has been achieved there to date, and I am proud to have her support for this legislation, which will be in her capable hands upon being sent to the Senate.
As you are well aware, I first introduced this legislation in the 105th Congress as H.R. 3950, on which this Subcommittee held a hearing on July 28th of last year. Following this very productive hearing, H.R. 3950 was subsequently amended and passed unanimously by your Subcommittee in August. This revised language, which amended Section 6(b) of H.R. 3950 as introduced and was sought and supported by the Administration, reflected concerns expressed over the original Section 6(b) by the Departments of Justice and Interior, members of this Subcommittee, and the environmental community. The practical effect of this language, which is also found in H.R. 15, is to provide assurance that the Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies will be able to continue to pursue their missions of national security in the Otay Mountain region effectively and without hindrance, while simultaneously protecting the surrounding resources as wilderness and maintaining the integrity of the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to expand on this last point. Many of my colleagues, and especially my fellow Californians, have heard me speak to the volume and variety of law enforcement challenges we face along our southern border, both environmental and criminal. As I have made clear to you, Mr. Chairman, and to this Subcommittee at the July hearing, I would not be pursuing enactment of H.R. 15 in the first place if I did not firmly believe that we would be able, at the end of the day, to protect this wonderful and rugged place as wilderness for future generations of San Diegans and all Americans to enjoy, while simultaneously maintaining the formidable interdiction capabilities of the Border Patrol which are critical to our national security.
Mr. Chairman, I have remained in close contact with the Border Patrol throughout this process, and you will be interested to know that it is confident that the wilderness designation which will occur under H.R. 15 will be compatible with its ongoing mission in years to come. The Border Patrol worked closely with the BLM in designating the wilderness boundaries for Otay Mountain, including those for the essential access roads which they presently use. Indeed, the interagency cooperation which has occurred to date has already actually improved Border Patrol's ability to deter illegal immigration and apprehend the smugglers of narcotics and human beings which still unfortunately taint our border regions. The compromise language now found in Section 6(b) of H.R. 15 provides the ability for this success to continue, based on the flexibility found in Section 4(c) of the existing Wilderness Act.
In years past, the Border Patrol had expressed concerns about the potential designation of Otay Mountain as wilderness, due largely to its rugged terrain, which served as a ''magnet'' for illegal immigration and smuggling activities. However, by working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Department of Forestry (CDF) to construct new access to the area and along the border itself, and repairing and improving existing roads, the Border Patrol's ability to operate in the region has been greatly improved. There have already been noticeable reductions of traffic in both illegal immigration and narcotics as a result of this improved access.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the Administration's willingness to work with me, your Subcommittee, and other stakeholders to develop this compromise language which addresses these concerns in a satisfactory manner. I would like to again emphasize that I share the legitimate concerns which have been expressed in the past about ''setting precedent'' which might be detrimental to the landmark Wilderness Act of 1964 or be harmful to essential law enforcement activities along our borders; however, I am pleased with the level of consensus which now exists for this bill amongst the stakeholders. We all want the same thingswe want to protect the natural beauty of Otay Mountain for future generations, we want to maintain strong and effective law enforcement at the border, and we want to maintain sound wildfire management practices.
I would like to talk for a moment about the kind of precedent which I am interested in setting with this bill, Mr. Chairman, because I believe that an important opportunity exists before us. Too often in years past, discussion or debate of various wilderness proposals have unfortunately been marked by conflict rather than consensus, and partisanship rather than partnership. I take heart in the fact that while there have been differences of opinion as to how best to refine H.R. 15 to achieve the results all stakeholders want, they have been expressed openly and in good faith, and that constructive dialogue has resulted in the legislative product before us today. It seems to me that the best legacy we could leave with H.R. 15 is beyond that of a simple wilderness bill, important though it is.
I have to believe that there are other regions of extraordinary beauty elsewhere in our country, possibly even in other border regions, where the critical missions of different departments or agencies have historically been viewed as being at ''cross-purposes'' with those of resource conservation or environmental protection. We have already seen the positive environmental results of the Border Patrol's increased access to the Otay Mountain wilderness study area and adjoining areas. The reductions in illegal smuggling and immigration there has directly translated into reduced impact on the resource itselffewer illicit trails beaten through delicate and sensitive habitat, less trash and human waste, and, elsewhere in the vicinity, fewer sensitive animal and bird species being harmed or consumed for food, and less toxic chemical residue from makeshift drug labs, to list but a few benefits.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is my hope that if we are successful in our efforts to designate wilderness at Otay Mountain, we can establish and shore up the precedent that wilderness designation is not inherently incompatible with critical law enforcement or other work being conducted in the same region, and vice versa. We should emphasize and support these opportunities, where Federal operating strategies can and should be made to complement each other, rather than be allowed to run completely independent of one another, and at cross purposes. In the instance of H.R. 15 and Otay Mountain, there is clear benefit to be derived both to our natural environment and our law enforcement strategies. Given the great importance of both these assets, I would like nothing more that to see this bill become law and serve as a blueprint for future cooperation and success, in which we can all share and benefit.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for your consideration of this important legislation; I look forward to working with you and our colleagues to move H.R. 15 through the House of Representatives to the Senate, and ultimately to the President's desk. I have some supporting material which I would ask to be included in the record, and would be happy to answer any questions from the Subcommittee.
LETTER TO MR. BILBRAY FROM SECRETARY BRUCE BABBITT
Honorable BRIAN P. BILBRAY
|The Secretary of the Interior,|
|February 3, 1999.|
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
DEAR MR. BILBRAY: Thank you for your letter of December 14, 1998, regarding the proposal to designate Otay Mountain in San Diego County as wilderness.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I regret that you were unable to join me on the Otay Mountain tour. I was pleased to meet the many individuals and local officials committed to preserving the special resources on Otay Mountain.
The conclusion of the group present was that the time was appropriate to designate Otay Mountain as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Bureau of Land Management Acting Director Tom Fry will be testifying on February 4, 1999, before the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands on behalf of the Administration in strong support of H.R. 15.
I look forward to working with you to preserve the unique resources of this area as the legislation makes its way through Congress.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much. We appreciate your testimony.
STATEMENT OF HON. J.D. HAYWORTH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
Mr. HAYWORTH. Mr. Chairman, I thank you. It is good to see members of the Subcommittee, including my good friend from Colorado and, yes, Mr. Udall, there are Republican Udalls. In fact, the joke my staffer, Chris Udall, likes to tell is that your dad and others on your side of the family took a left turn out of St. Johns while brother Chris took a right turn out of the Round Valley. But be that as it may, we are pleased to see you here in the 106th Congress, and my long-time colleagues thank you for this opportunity to testify in support of H.R. 150 or what my staff has taken to calling the Hayworth Educational Land Grant Act, or HELGA.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The idea for HELGA came from legislation I introduced in the 104th Congress which became public law. That bill conveyed 30 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in Apache County, Arizona to the Alpine Elementary School District for the purpose of building new school facilities. I am very pleased to have the principal of the Alpine School, Mr. David Silva, here to testify in support of HELGA which seeks to set up a mechanism that would allow for similar conveyances of federally-controlled land to school districts nationwide.
HELGA would amend the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, title 43, section 869 of the U.S. Code to authorize conveyances of small parcels of BLM or Forest Service land to public school districts. Currently, title 43, section 869 only allows conveyances of BLM land for certain purposes.
The size of any transfer would be limited to 640 acres which is the same limitation in title 43, section 869. Land in the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Wilderness Preservation System, National Wild and Scenic River System, National Trail System, National Recreation areas, and any specially designated lands are strictly prohibited from being subject to applications for conveyances. If at some point the land was used for non-public purposes, ownership of the land would revert back to the Federal Government.
Finally, the Secretary of the Interior, in the case of the BLM, and the Secretary of Agriculture, in the case of the Forest Service, must respond to applications for land by school districts within 60 days. If this deadline is not met, then the agency must report to Congress.
Many school districts, especially rural school districts, are financially strapped. For example, I want to briefly tell you about the Alpine School District. The district sits within Apache County in the eastern part of Arizona near the New Mexico border. Eighty-five percent of Apache County is federally-controlled land. As a result, the school district has relied in the past heavily on proceeds from timber harvesting.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Unfortunately, due to lawsuits, logging there has been halted. Consequently, the timber receipts that have gone toward funding the schools have all but dried up. Without a conveyance, Alpine's school district could not have afforded to pay the estimated $7,500 per acre to purchase land and at the same time pay for badly needed new school facilities. The prohibitive costs for acreage and new facilities make it nearly impossible for those financially strapped districts, like Alpine, to survive. However, by conveying land to the Alpine District and saving that district one-quarter of a million dollars, the district could afford to build new facilities, thus reducing class sizes and concentrating money where it is most needed, on the students. This is why we need to amend the Recreation and Public Purposes Act to include land conveyances from school districts on Forest Service lands.
In a moment, you will also hear from Apache County Board of Supervisors Chairman Art Lee and Apache County Manager Clarence Bigelow. I look forward to their testimony and their explanation of the challenges they face as a result of Apache County's large amount of federally-controlled land.
This situation is not isolated to the Alpine School District. As you may recall, last year when I testified before the Subcommittee, the city of Globe also testified about problems its schools face in rural Gila County. I have also received letters from other school districts facing similar problems.
Mr. Chairman, I have only incorporated one minor change to the original bill, H.R. 2223, which was introduced in 1997, because of the Forest Service's previous testimony. Last Congress' bill inadvertently would have allowed disposal of Forest Service lands by the Secretary of the Interior, although Forest Service lands are currently under the purview of the Secretary of Agriculture. I agree with the Forest Service that the language in H.R. 2223 did not clearly specify who had jurisdiction over Forest Service lands, and so the new bill reflects the change.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Nevertheless, even with this change, I expect the Forest Service to argue that the Secretary of Agriculture already has existing authority to accommodate public uses through the Townsite Act or the Sisk Act. While the Secretary does have the authority to convey land through various Acts of Congress, these lands can be only conveyed at fair market value. These are the same prohibitive costs I am trying to eliminate through my bill. Rural districts simply cannot afford the exorbitant costs of land and the construction of new school facilities.
Moreover, it is fair to ask what is more important, ensuring that Federal land is purchased at fair market value or that children are educated in adequate facilities. Mr. Chairman, the answer is obvious to methat latter proposition, our children, are our most precious resource.
The Forest Service may also say that the government must be compensated for ceding Federal land to local education agencies. I would like to remind the Forest Service and the Subcommittee of two things: first, many States, especially those in the West, agreed to hand over large amounts of their land to the Federal Government in order to join the Union. The least we can do is give some of this land back to some of our most important constituents, our children. Second, while the Forest Service claims they are concerned that they will lose money by ceding land to various school districts, the Congressional Budget Office has scored my bill and concluded that HELGA would, ''have no significant impact on the Federal budget.''
Mr. Chairman, on both sides of the aisle, Members of Congress have talked about the importance of education. HELGA is a common sense proposal we can all agree on, because it will allow economically-challenged school districts throughout the U.S. to put more money where it counts, in the classroom. This is a goal I know we all support, and I hope this Subcommittee will act quickly and decisively on this legislation in order that we might help school children throughout rural America.
Thanks again, Mr. Chairman, and other members of this Subcommittee. I look forward to any questions you might have concerning HELGA.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Hayworth follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. J.D. HAYWORTH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, and distinguished guests, thank you for allowing me to testify in support of H.R. 150, what my staff has taken to calling the Hayworth Education Land Grant Act or HELGA. It is indeed a great honor to be before the Committee on which I was very proud to serve during the 104th Congress.
The idea for HELGA came from legislation I introduced in the 104th Congress that became public law. That bill conveyed 30 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in Apache County, Arizona to the Alpine Elementary School District for the purpose of building new school facilities. I am very proud to have the principal of the Alpine School, Mr. David Silva, here to testify in support of HELGA, which seeks to set up a mechanism that would allow for similar conveyances of federally-controlled land to local school districts nationwide.
In President Clinton's last three State of the Union addresses, he advocated spending $5 billion on new school construction. While I have serious reservations about the President's plan because of constitutional concerns, HELGA offers a way to help rural school districts with construction at little or no cost to the Federal Government. If the Administration is sincere in its efforts to help local communities build new schools, it should endorse this proposal unequivocally.
HELGA would amend the Recreation and Public Purposes ActTitle 43, Section 869 of the U.S. Codeto authorize conveyances of small parcels of BLM or Forest Service land to public school districts. Currently, Title 43, Section 869 only allows conveyances of BLM land for certain purposes.
The size of any transfer would be limited to 640 acres, which is the same limitation in Title 43, Section 869. Land in the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Wilderness Preservation System, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, National Trails System, National Recreation Areas, and any specially-designated lands are strictly prohibited from being subject to applications for conveyances. In other words, HELGA would not affect Federal lands of national significance. If at some point the land was used for non-public purposes, ownership of the land would revert back to the Federal Government.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, the Secretary of the Interior, in the case of the BLM, and the Secretary of Agriculture, in the case of the Forest Service, must respond to applications for land by school districts within 60 days. If this deadline is not met, the agency must report to Congress.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, private land in the West is very expensive. And, while most federally-controlled land is located in the West, westerners also face another problem: rapidly growing populations. In fact, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada are the three fastest growing states in the nation. With less and less private land on which to build schools and other public facilities, the West will increasingly need to find new solutions to its growth problems. HELGA is one of the ways we can alleviate some of the West's concerns and, at the same time, help our children receive the education they need and deserve.
And while the West is growing rapidly, many school districts are financially-strapped for cash. For example, let me tell you about the Alpine School District's predicament. The district lies within Apache County, in the eastern part of Arizona near the New Mexico border. Some 85 percent of Apache County is federally-controlled land. As a result, the school district relies heavily on proceeds from timber harvesting.
Unfortunately, due to lawsuits, logging has been halted. Consequently, the timber receipts that had gone toward funding the schools have all but dried up. Without a conveyance, Alpine School District could not have afforded to pay the estimated $7,500 per acre to purchase land and, at the same time, pay for badly needed new school facilities.
The prohibitive costs for acreage and new schools make it nearly impossible for financially strapped school districts, like Alpine, to survive. However, by conveying land to the Alpine School District and saving the district $225,000, the district could afford to build new facilities, thus reducing class sizes and concentrating money where it is most needed: on the students. That is why we need to amend the Recreation and Public Purposes Act to include land conveyances for school districts on Forest Service lands. In a moment, you will hear from Apache County Board of Supervisors Chairman Art Lee and Apache County Manager Clarence Bigelow. I look forward to their testimony and their explanation of the challenges they face as a result of Apache County's large amount of federally-controlled land.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This situation isn't isolated to the Alpine School District. As you may recall, last year when I testified before the Subcommittee, the City of Globe also testified about problems its schools face in rural Gila County. This county is the size of the state of Connecticut, yet only 3 percent of its land is under private control. The government controls an amazing 97 percent of the land. Globe's population is growing, but the schools are hamstrung by the prohibitive costs of buying acreage and paying for improved school facilities. HELGA is a simple way to help rural, economically-strapped school districts.
Mr. Chairman, I have only incorporated one minor change to the original billH.R. 2223I introduced in 1997 because of the Forest Service's previous testimony. Last Congress's bill inadvertently would have allowed disposal of Forest Service lands by the Secretary of the Interior, although Forest Service lands are currently under the purview of the Secretary of the Agriculture. I agree with the Forest Service that the language in H.R. 2223 did not clearly specify who had jurisdiction over Forest Service lands, so the new bill reflects this change.
Nevertheless, even with this change, I expect the Forest Service to argue that the Secretary of Agriculture already has existing authority to accommodate public uses through the Townsite Act or the Sisk Act. While the Secretary does have the authority to convey land through various Acts of Congress, these lands can only be conveyed at ''fair market value.'' These are the same prohibitive costs that I am trying to eliminate through my bill. Rural school districts simply cannot afford the exorbitant costs of land and new school facilities. Moreover, what is more importantensuring that Federal land is purchased at fair market value or that children are educated in adequate facilities? Mr. Chairman, the answer is obvious to me.
My friends from the Forest Service may also argue that the government must be compensated for ceding Federal land to local education agencies. I would remind the Forest Service of two things. First, the states in the West agreed to hand over large amounts of their land to the Federal Government in order to join the union. The least we can do is give some of this land back to some of our most important constituents: children. Second, while the Forest Service claims they are concerned they will lose money by ceding land to various school districts, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has scored my bill and concluded that HELGA would ''have no significant impact on the Federal budget.''
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, on both sides of the aisle, we have talked about the importance of education. HELGA is a commonsense proposal that we all can agree on because it will allow economically strapped school districts throughout the United States to put more money where it counts: in the classroom. This is a goal we all support, and I hope that this Subcommittee will act quickly and decisively on this legislation to help our school children in rural America.
Thanks again to you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, for allowing me to testify. I will remain here to answer any questions you may have regarding HELGA.
[The information may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Hayworth.
The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Hefley.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOEL HEFLEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF COLORADO
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I, too, would like to welcome my colleague from Colorado, the new gentleman from there, but I would also like to make a motion that this Committee cannot have two people by the same name on the Committee
[continuing] if you father and uncle's picture is hanging in the room, or something about that.
Mr. Chairman, I apologize for having to take up the time of this Committee with this bill again this year. We worked very hard on it last year. This was a bill that there was cooperation between everybodyDemocrats, Republicans, the legislative branch in the form of this Committee, the administration in the form of the Interior Department, and, certainly, the Motion Picture Associationto try to work out a bill that everybody was happy with, and it passed the House without any trouble whatsoever, and then got involved in the machinations of the Senate in the last days over there where it got involved with being held hostage for something else and all that kind of thing. And, so here we are again, and I really appreciate the Chairman bringing this up early in the session so that maybe we can work our way through that.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Prior to 1948, filmmakers paid a market price to film on public land, but for some reason that practice was banned by regulation in 1948. This bill directs the Interior Department to develop a uniform policy for the collection of fees for the making of any motion picture, television production, soundtrack, or similar project for commercial purposes if it is determined that those uses are appropriate to and will not impair the value and resources of the land and facilities. The bill directs that these fees provide a fair return to the government and not less than the government's direct and indirect cost of processing applications and the use of the land and facilities, including necessary cleanup and restoration.
In drafting this policy, Interior is directed to develop a standard schedule of rates for such factors as the number of people on the site, the length of the stay, service to services, and use of special areas. This was suggested by a policy initiated by the Forest Service in California last year. Newsreel, news television productions, and most still photographers say those that are using props and models or sets would be exempt from the fees. Any proceeds resulting from this policy would be dispersed according to Rec Fee Demo Program. In other words, 80 percent of those proceeds would remain in the unit where filming takes place to be used for maintenance needs. The remaining 20 percent would go towards servicewide use.
In this bill, we have tried to strike a balance between the flexibility Interior wants and the certainty that the industry needs. A rate schedule will allow the industry a quick, ballpark estimate of the minimum cost for filming on public land. The regulatory approach recognizes there will be cases where the resources involved demand special treatment.
I believe everyone involved in the drafting of this legislation wants to see filming continue on public land. You know, for many folks this may be the only way they ever see the great jewels of our park system, the Yellowstones, and the Grand Canyons, and so forth. We want them to film on public land. It is good, I think, for the country; it is good for the economy. We want them to do it; we want them to have some certainty about what it is going to cost, so that that is not an arbitrary thing, and we want them to do it in such a way that it does not harm the resource.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think this bill sets the framework that will be to the benefit of everybody, and I particularly again want to thank the Motion Picture Association for working with us so diligently on this. They will testify a little later. I think we have got a good bill, Mr. Chairman. We had a good bill last year; I think we have a good bill this year, and maybe by starting this early, we can actually get it through the entire process. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hefley follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JOEL HEFLEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF COLORADO
Mr. Chairman, H.R. 154 seeks to correct an inequity that has existed within the Department of Interior for more than 50 yearsa prohibition on the collection of fees by the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for commercial filming on the lands they administer.
Prior to 1948, these agencies charged fees for the use of public lands for filming. I suppose many Americans got their first taste of the West through the classic Westerns of John Ford. Many of those films were made on public lands in Utah and Mr. Ford paid a standard fee for the use of those lands. But, for some reason known but to God, that practice was ended in 1948 and there it rested until last year when a constituent of mine wrote to ask why film makers like Steven Spielberg could film on public land for no more than the permit fee. It turned out she was right and this bill is the result.
H.R. 154 directs the Secretary of Interior to develop a policy for the collection of fees for the making of any motion picture, television production, soundtrack or similar project, for commercial purposes on lands administered by Interior agencies, if the Secretary determines that use will not impair the values and resources of the land and facilities.
The bill directs the Secretary to require a payment of fees in an amount determined to provide a fair return to the government and that said fee shall not be less than the direct and indirect costs to the government for processing permit applications and for the use of the land and facilities, including any necessary cleanup and restoration.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The bill further directs the Secretary, as part of this policy, to develop a schedule of rates for fees based on such factors as the number of people on site under a permit, the duration of their stay, surface disturbances and the use of special areas. These factors were drawn from a similar policy launched by some regions of the U.S. Forest Service last year.
It exempts from fees bonafide newsreel or news television production and most still photographers, save those using models, sets or props.
The bill further directs that proceeds from this policy shall be available without appropriation to be used by Interior in accordance with the formula and purposes outlined under the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program. Penalties will be in accordance with Title 18 of the U.S. Code. After some discussion, it was decided that film makers should be treated the same as any other permittee, whether that permittee grazes cattle, chops down a tree, mines coal or makes a movie.
Finally, the bill stipulates that this legislation go into effect 180 days after enactment, that the Secretary review and revise regulations issued as a result of this legislation within three years after enactment, and that he periodically review and revise those regulations, as needed, over time.
This bill is the product of a great deal of cooperation between both sides of the aisle in this Committee, from the Interior Department and from the Motion Picture Industry. We have tried to balance the film industry's needs for certainty with the Interior Department's desire for flexibility. I think we have had some success achieving that balance.
This bill remained an active item on the agenda of the 105th until the day it recessed. Despite a concerted effort by members and administration representatives including, I believe, Secretary Babbitt, it somehow fell through the cracks on the last day. It is my hope that we can avoid a repeat of that this year and that we can pass this bill, put the needed policy in place and get moving on this issue. There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We all want to see filming continue on the public lands; the more people see them, the more will be stimulated to visit them. Even the film industry admits its only fair that one of the nation's leading industries and exporters pay a fair price for the use of these lands. It's possible revenues from this policy will take care of some maintenance needs on our public lands. At the same time, we don't want to see our public lands turned into sound stages. I think H.R. 154 can accomplish this. I urge your support.
[The information may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Hefley.
Questions for our colleagues? Mr. Romero-Barceló.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. We have no questions. We just want to thank the witnesses for bringing forward the bills.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. Mr. Hefley, do you want to ask yourself any questions
[continuing] or ask our two colleagues anything?
Mr. UDALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just two commentsI didn't have questions, but I wanted to first acknowledge my colleague from Colorado, and I am new around here, as you know, and I would love to co-sponsor your bill. I think it sounds like it is a very, very important piece of legislation and would like to do that. Secondly, I would just like to thank the Chairman and Congressman Bilbray for bringing forward this BLM wilderness bill. I know in Colorado we have a maturing situation there with a lot of BLM lands, and I am looking forward to having a discussion about what we do with those lands as well. So, I appreciate that. Thank you.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Udall. I have no questions for you.
Gentlemen, if you would like to come up and join us, we would be pleased and privileged to have you with us.
We will call our first panel. Mr. Tom Fry, Acting Director of Bureau of Land Management; Mr. Paul Brouha, Associate Deputy Chief, U.S. Forest Service; Mr. Stephen Saunders, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. If the gentlemen would like to take their place.
Gentlemen, we are privileged to have you here. The rules of this Committee are that you get five minutes. Seeing this morning we don't have too many folks here, we would be more than pleased if youI was going to say go over, but I don't really mean thatplease stay within your time. If you really have to go over a minute or two, I won't bang the gavel on you. You will see in front you just like a traffic lightgreen means go, yellow means wrap it up, and red means stop. So, five minutes goes in a hurry.
Mr. Fry, it is a pleasure to see you again, sir, and we will start with you if that is all right.
STATEMENT OF TOM FRY, ACTING DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Mr. FRY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be here and to be on this panel. I would like to ask that my written remarks be made a part of the record.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. Without objection, so ordered, and that will be the case on all witnesses today. If you want to abbreviate your statement, your written comments will be part of the record.
Mr. FRY. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank Congressman Bilbray for his efforts on behalf of the Otay Mountain Wilderness bill. He had a similar bill last year that we were able to support. There were some changes made to the bill in Committee markup last Congress. The administration supported the bill last year, so I am here again today to reiterate that support for the bill as introduced by Congressman Bilbray.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary Babbitt has taken a personal interest in the Otay Mountains and the Otay Mountain wilderness. He has recently made a trip there and had an opportunity to tour the area with Representative Filner from San Diego County, the San Diego County Association of Governments, the California Biodiversity Council, the Sierra Club, the Endangered Habitat League, the Wilderness Society, the U.S. Border Patrol, BLM, and representatives from Senators Feinstein and Boxer's office. At the end of that tour, the Secretary reiterated his support for wilderness designation for this area.
I think I can represent, on behalf of all the parties involved, that everybody thinks this is an appropriate area for wilderness as it's currently drawn on the map. There have obviously been some questions raised about section 6(b), the provision of the bill which pertains to the Border Patrol and activities within the wilderness area. This is something that we have looked at with great interest within the administration.
The 6(b) language of this bill has been approved by the Justice Department in consultation with the Border Patrol and with the Department of the Interior, and we are fully supportive of the language that is currently in the bill. We recognize that others may differ with some of the language, and reasonable people can differ, but we think that this is the appropriate language that provides a good balance between protecting the interest of the Border Patrol and also protecting the standards of the 1964 Wilderness Act.
So, with that, Mr. Chairman, I recommend to this Committee that you report this bill, and we look forward to working with you to getting it through the entire Congress.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Fry may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Well, thank you, Mr. Fry. I appreciate your comments.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF PAUL BROUHA, ASSOCIATE DEPUTY CHIEF, U.S. FOREST SERVICE
Mr. BROUHA. Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to present the administration's views concerning H.R. 150 which are the amendments to the Recreation and Public Purposes Act in order to dispose of National Forest lands to education agencies. The administration commented on the previous bill, H.R. 2223, regarding this subject during a hearing before this Subcommittee last year.
I am accompanied today by Mr. James B. Snow, who is the Deputy Assistant General Counsel for the Department of Agriculture. In the matter of land use law, we may need to use his skills and knowledge.
While the administration supports the objective of making Federal lands available under certain circumstances for public purposes, the administration strongly opposes this bill. First, the bill is unnecessary because current statutory authority exists to make land available for educational purposes. Second, the bill would permit the disposal of National Forest lands for less than fair market value. And, third, the deadline requirement to make the conveyance within 60 days is entirely inadequate.
Let me expand a little bit. The administration appreciates the efforts that the Subcommittee has made to address the concern raised last year regarding H.R. 2223, but we continue to have serious problems with the bill. First, to include the disposal of National Forest lands for public purposes under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act of 1926 is unnecessary because the Secretary of Agriculture has existing authorities to accommodate public uses through authorities to permit, lease, and exchange or dispose of National Forest lands.
For example, under the Townsite Act, the Secretary of Agriculture may convey full fair market value up to 640 acres of land to establish communities located in the State of Alaska or in the contiguous western States. Within certain limits, the Sisk Act of 1967 authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to exchange lands with States, communities, or municipal governments or public school districts for lands or lands and money. Moreover, the Secretary of Agriculture can exchange National Forest lands with State and local government.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secondly, the administration objects to H.R. 150 because it would permit the disposable of National Forest lands for less than fair market value. The taxpayers of the United States should receive fair market value for the sale, exchange, or use of their National Forest land.
Unlike the R&PPA, other land exchange laws require the Secretary of Agriculture to obtain fair market value for the exchanges or sales of the National Forest. Indeed, Federal policy backed by bipartisan consensus in the executive and legislative branches in recent decades has moved towards maximizing the return to the public for the value of the lands conveyed out of the Federal estate. The administration objects to legislation that would reverse that policy by opening the door to less than fair market value, consideration for the disposal of National Forest lands.
Third, the administration objects to the requirement that within 60 days a decision on these conveyances must be made. Decisions about the appropriate use of National Forest lands and resources are accomplished through the forest planning processes that are identified under the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Under NFMA and NEPA, the Forest Services analyzes important environmental considerations, and the public is intensively involved.
During this process, local Forest Service officials work closely with State and local governments to identify their concerns, the needs for the land, and lands appropriate for land ownership adjustments. These processes take time, and since every land adjustment is unique, it would be difficult to determine an appropriate amount of time necessary to complete environmental analyses. In fact, such a limit would only serve to create expectations that the agency could not meet and undermine the credibility of its public development processes and environmental analysis. The agency strongly believes that attempts to short-circuit environmental and public processes will only lead to more controversy.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, Mr. Chairman, while the administration supports the general objective of making Federal lands available for educational purposes, the administration strongly opposes H.R. 150. However, the administration remains open to discussions with the Subcommittee on other ideas for this bill.
This concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer questions, sir.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Brouha may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much. I appreciate your statement.
Mr. Saunders, we will turn the time to you, sir.
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN SAUNDERS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY, FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS
Mr. SAUNDERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I am happy to join the choir singing the praises of H.R. 154. I think there will be more praise sung by your third panel from the key interest groups that are involved in this. We are strongly supportive of this bill even though it is perhaps unusual for somebody from a Department to come and say that about a problem that is really created by the Department itself.
For the past half-century, we have had a regulation on our books that keeps the Park Service from recovering fees for the use of the resources in our National Parks. For the past 40 years, that has also applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service, and there is no real sense for that. We can't even find out why that was done to begin with.
The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Park Service would like join to BLM and the Forest Service in being able to charge some kind of fee that would ensure a fair return to the taxpayers for the use of the resources. State and local governments do this; tribes do it. We see no reason why we should tie our hands the way we have.
The bill has been worked out. As has been said, we enjoyed the opportunity to work with you on it last year. I think the success in having everybody reach agreement was shown by the vote in the House, and we see no reason why the Senate shouldn't go along, and we thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your action on this early in the year.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Saunders may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much. We appreciate that positive response.
Questions now for the panel? The gentleman from Puerto Rico will be recognized for five minutes.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yes, I do have questions for Mr. Brouha.
Mr. Brouha, I understand from your testimony that you currently have the authority to make available National Forest land for public school purposes. Do you in fact use this authority?
Mr. BROUHA. Yes, we do, sir.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Can you give us an idea of how many schools you have permitted on National Forest land using the current authority?
Mr. BROUHA. We have made use of the authorities that are available to us under the Townsite Act approximately nine times in the past 10 years.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Nine times in the past 10 years?
Mr. BROUHA. Yes, and we have six that are currently under processing. And then under the Sisk Act, we have about 25 applications and transfers that have occurred during the last decade.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. You have only used it nine times in the past 10 years. How long is the average time that it takes from the time that the land is requested to the time that the land has been given for the education purposes? Is there an average amount of time? Is it a short time? Is it years? Is it months?
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BROUHA. Well, let me clarify a point, sir, if I may. When I refer to nine times, they weren't necessarily all for educational purposes, but the length of the process normally takes one or two years.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. One or two years. So, the school would have to wait for one or two years until the land would be made available to them under the present process.
Mr. BROUHA. That is correct.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. The other thing I would like to say: You mentioned in your testimony that the taxpayers should be reimbursed for this land. Now, if this were being given to private purposes, I can see that, but this is also being given for taxpayers. I mean they are for the children of taxpayers. So, I don't understand taking money from one pocket to put it in the other pocket. I don't understand that concept of making that fair market value of the land when it is for educational purposes. Don't we in the Federal Government have many instances where land is given to the States or to local communities when they are for educational purposes and for health purposes for free?
Mr. BROUHA. We do, in fact, have many instances of those conveyances having been made under the existing authorities that the BLM enjoys for this current Act. However, the track record for the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture is because this was a reservation from the public estate has been to require fair market value as provided for under the Townsite Act and under the Sisk Act.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. I know, that is what the law is now, but because that is the law is that fair that the fair market value exacted for land that is going to be used for educational purposes?
Mr. BROUHA. Again, I think the Congress has made that assessment and essentially reinforced that concept over time and recently so, in fact.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. That is what we are trying to reevaluate here.
Mr. BROUHA. Yes, sir.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Well, thank you very much.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Hefley.
Mr. HEFLEY. Well, you know, my line of questioning would fall within the same line of my friend from Puerto Rico's was. When States like Arizona and Colorado and many of the western States were settled, one of the reasons that we ended up with so much Federal land is no one wanted it then. I mean, this wasn't land that was good for homesteading, and no one really wanted it. So, the Federal Government took it to use for good public purposes or at least to hold it and maintain it and so forth. And it seems to me that if we find a good public purpose for it, that it doesn't make any sense to make a little, poor school district somewhere in Arizona have to pay full market value, maybe development cost value and that kind of thing, for the land. If a better public purpose than just having it sit there is to have a school on it, somehow or other it seems to me that that is the direction we ought to go. And you are saying the Department would resist that kind of change in the law? You said that we had established this policy of fair market value, but if we want to change that policy based upon higher and better use of the public land, not to a commercial enterprise but to something like education, would you resist that kind of a concept? Would you resist that kind of a change?
Mr. BROUHA. Sir, again, I think it is certainly within the prerogative of the Congress to make that assessment. However, I might point out that ''camel's nose under the tent'' sort of applies here, because while we support education, we also support public health, fire and police protection, the citing of court houses, and municipal facilities. So, at this point, I think you could see how this notion then gets expanded, and the point then becomes where do you stop it? And the Congress in the past has agreed that fair market value was a requirement, and, again, that may be something you wish to reevaluate.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HEFLEY. Well, you might want to look at the base closing process where we also have the requirement of fair market value, but we do make exceptions many time. We have made exceptions during these last three base closing or four base closure rounds for other good public purposes. And the Department might want to reevaluate that, and this might be a kicker to get them to do that. It seems to me thatlike my friend saidthat taking it out of one pocket and putting it in the other and particularly a pocket which doesn't have it; a poor school district in Arizona which doesn't have the money to take out of that pocket, it seems to me this is a way we can help them with a good public purpose, and I would hope that the Congress and the Department would reevaluate it. Thank you very much.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Udall.
Mr. UDALL. Mr. Chairman, I have nothing to say. I must have made a mistakethe same mistake you make at an auction, scratching your ear or putting your hand up. So, I have nothing to say, I am just listening. Thank you, sir.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Washington, Mr. Inslee.
Mr. INSLEE. I am with Mr. Udall on this, Mr. Chair.
Mr. HANSEN. Okay, thank you. The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Hayworth.
Mr. HAYWORTH. I thank the Chairman, and I thank my colleague from Puerto Rico and my colleague from Colorado for their line of inquiry and their very valid observations. Let me thank the witnesses who are here.
Mr. Brouha, I listened with great interest to your testimony, and let me preface my remarks mindful of your testimony to make the common observation that any piece of legislation at the Subcommittee and the Full Committee level is a work in progress. And I understand the administration's concern about the time period involved in reviewing local school districts' applications, but I would also just call on you to reiterate or perhaps amplify your response to my colleague from Puerto Rico. In the past, under the curtain of the current legislation and the ability administratively to set aside land for educational purposes, would you again repeat the answer you gave to my friend from Puerto Rico? How many times has this been utilized in say the last 10 years?
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BROUHA. In the last 10 years, the Secretary of Agriculture has made National Forest lands available to communities adjacent to National Forests in the 11 contiguous western States and Alaska in 9 cases. We are currently working on an additional six. Of those nine completed cases, six were in the Southwest. Of the six ongoing cases, five are in region 3. And in the last 10 yearsthat is under the authority of the Townsite Actand in the last 10 years, under the authority of the Sisk Act, we have made National Forest lands available to States, counties, or municipal governments for publics in 25 cases. We are currently working on an additional four cases, and this doesn't include the exchanges that we have made for other appropriate parcels of land.
Mr. HAYWORTH. So, with a quick mathematical check, combining those two existing avenues of administrative ability, under 50 casesthat is fair to sayin under 50 cases has this been utilizedI think we can both agree on that observation. And if I am not mistaken, in response to my colleague from Puerto Rico, you were saying the average time limit to effectuate some sort of change of this type has been between one or two years?
Mr. BROUHA. That is right, but there is an ability to permit those sites for those uses much more rapidly. So, the effect is not to, in fact, prevent the use of them.
Mr. HAYWORTH. Let me just say this to members of the Subcommittee and to you, Mr. Brouha, as you represent the Forest Service: If the Secretary of Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture or someone needs 90 days to review the application, I am not averse to that. What I think we are going to hear in subsequent testimony, what I found from personal experienceand my colleagues who are new to the Congress might be interested in thiswhen the people of the Alpine School District came to meand what you are going to find in the States from the West that you representright now, we kind of have a crazy quilt process where you have to draw up an individual piece of legislation or work administratively over a long, long period of time to effectuate the change.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The good news for the Alpine District, as will be testified later, Mr. Chairman, is the fact that we were able to get this done literally on the last day of the 104th Congress in a huge piece of legislation. It is good news that we eventually got it done, but the purpose of the legislation is to set up a uniform way to get this done to effectuate the change that my colleague from Puerto Rico pointed out, amplified by my colleague from Colorado and to serve our childrenand I know this is not your area, Mr. Brouha, nor will I ask you to try and quantify as we talk about fair market value of Federal land. I know there is no way to quantify the value of improving education for our children especially children, because that comes under the category of priceless.
Just one final question: Do you dispute the finding of the Congressional Budget Office which saidas I pointed out in my testimonythat HELGA would ''have no significant impact on the Federal budget?'' Do you dispute that?
Mr. BROUHA. Given the $3.7 trillion budget, sir, I would hardly be able to dispute that.
Mr. HAYWORTH. I thank you for your testimony and your courtesy, and I thank the Chairman and yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentleman from Arizona.
Mr. Brouha, you find yourself in a position of coming up here representing the Forest Service, and we don't mean to be unkind or beat up on you, but of all the three bills we are looking at, you have the controversial one. And this is my 19th year on this Committee. I guess I could give you a list, quite a long list, of where we have given and traded and sold land that wasn't really market value.
The other question comes up, determining market value is not an easy thing to do. And as the gentlemen have all pointed out, public policy has a lot to do with that. What is right? For example, myself and Mr. Hefley work on the Armed Services Committee and sometimes a mountain home, for example, up near Idaho got a bombing range. Maybe it isn't Federal for Federal, but this is another thing that the public does, whether it be State, and the list just goes on and on of people who don't get that.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, we don't mean to be unkind to you in any way; please don't take it that way, but I think you will find a consensus of both sides of the political aisle will beat up on you a little bit on this one, because we are a little concerned when a school districtand we know how tough it is to raise our kids. And, frankly, out in the West, we have this problem. The Federal Government owns most of our land, and we have this little thing we call payment in lieu of taxes, and myself and the gentleman from Montana changed that some time ago, but the Forest Service, BLM, and othersI am not blaming them; Congress has more to do with it than they dowe don't really live up to it.
So, the Forest Service comes out; the BLM comes out; they play on our ground; they bring people out. The people they bring out cause fires; they cause trash; they cause accidents, and they ask our little broke counties to go fix those things. So, we run out and do it, but yet they don't pay their share.
So, here you are, if you are a county commissioner in any one of those western States; you put in your budget payment in lieu of taxes, and you are counting on it. Yet, they don't pay their share. Rarely do they pay their share. In my 19 years in Congress I haven't seen them ever pay their share. In Garfield County in Utah, it is 97 percent owned by the Federal Government and most of that is Forest Service. So then when it comes down to trading some ground, they want their full share, and I use that as my example.
Let me just ask you, I noticed from your testimony I think you have three main concerns. Your first concern is that you said they have the ability to give land to schools under the Townsite and Sisk Act. I just want to make sure I understand the situation. Does the Townsite Act or the Sisk Act give the Forest Service the authority to sell land to a school at less than full market value?
Mr. BROUHA. No, it does not.
Mr. HANSEN. Say it a little louder, please.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BROUHA. No, it does not.
Mr. HANSEN. So, if Alpine School District needs to buy land at less than market value, neither of those Acts will help us, is that right?
Mr. BROUHA. Not with the Forest Service, no, sir.
Mr. HANSEN. Second, the administration says it is strongly opposed to selling land to schools at less than full market, and I guess we could ask why, but that has been pretty well handled by my colleagues in what they have talked about.
And, finally, the Forest Service feels that 60 days is too short to make the RPPA decisions. Actually, you probably have a good point there, and I would like to get any suggestions that Forest Service could give us on how we could alter the bill to give your agents here a little more flexibility while keeping in mind, of course, the intent of the requirement which is to expedite these sort of decisions.
I want to point out to you basically public policy is to try and help American citizens, and military are swapping ground around like it is going out of style constantly, because we feel the need to protect the security of America. The same thing with some States which we did the school trust land with BLM not toolast year which was a dramatic change. But I honestly feel that in a situationwe are not asking Chrysler and Mercedes Benz to put something up there, we are asking a ratherif it is like you DonI think it isthese school districts are barely making it; not enough money to do it, and, yet there are kids all over the place and somehow we have to educate them. Frankly, I feel you are going to find a consensus of this House and both political parties will be to make a change here. I would suggest very strongly that you work out some kind of flexibility or suggestions to us to make a change on issues of public policy. Yes, sir, go ahead.
Mr. BROUHA. If I may comment, sir. The fundamental difference, I think, is with respect to the Bureau of Land Management, we were continuing the disposal of the public estate, and it wasn't really until 1976 under FLPMA that we actually developed organic purposes which gave the BLM a continued reason as an organization and as an agency to exist.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Forest Service was made with the reservation out of public estate, in most cases, especially in the West, and what we have here is a fundamental difference in public land law and public land policy, and certainly we do wish to work with the Subcommittee and with the members of the Subcommittee and would respond to requests that you have made as to some suggestions, and we will be pleased to provide those for you in the coming weeks if you would like.
Mr. HANSEN. I am sure we would appreciate that. If you could give us some suggestions on how to break this logjam. Frankly, I don't know of anything more frustrating than trading land, selling land, swapping land. It is the most frustrating thing we go through around here. So, as you know, we have had a number of hearings on how do we trade land. And, franklydon't take this disrespectfully; I know no one in this room has much to do with it, and it rests here with Congressbut it is the biggest fudge factory in the world.
Forty years ago, I was a city councilman in Farmington, Utah, and we had a piece of Forest Service right in the middle of our town, and we grew around it. We were 600 people when I was a kid; now it is 16,000 people. And we would say to the Forest Service, ''Is there a waywe have got you surrounded, is there a way we can get rid of this thing?'' ''Oh, yes, we will work on it.'' And it went to Ogden and to Denver and to Washington, and nothing ever happened.
I went to the State legislature and tried to do it. I became Speaker of the House and tried to do it. I was back here for years, and finally, we put it in an omnibus bill, and I think the gentleman from Arizona pointed out occasionally we have to go to the Colorados and the Arizonas and the Utahs and the Idahos and say, let us put a bill together and we all swap land legislatively, because we can't seem to get it done with the Park Service, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation as the case may be.
So, I am venting my frustrations on you, and I appreciate you taking that, but if you would like to come up with some recommendations, I would like to do it, because, to me, I don't know why we are spending our time on something that seems so meritorious that we could just get it over with and take care of little school district in a short time.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Please don't take this personally; we do appreciate you being here, and we will excuse this panel and turn to the third panel, not the second panel. Mr. Hefley, who is one of the busiest men in Congress, serving on the Armed Services Committee; he is chairman of the Military Construction Committee, and one of the leaders on the Ethics Committee, I would like to point out
[continuing] has to leave, so we will turn to the third subcommittee which is Mr. Jack Valenti, president and CEO of Motion Pictures Association of America and Mr. Philip H. Voorhees, Director of National Programs, National Parks and Conservation Association, and we appreciate both of you gentlemen being with us.
Gentlemen, it is a pleasure to have you before us. You know the rules; it is just a red light. We give you five minutes. If you just feel in your heart of hearts you have got to speak a little longer than that, well, we are not really pushed for time; we can give you a few more minutes.
Mr. Valenti, it is an honor to have you with us today, sir, and we will turn to you.
STATEMENT OF JACK VALENTI, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.
Mr. VALENTI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this Committee. When Abraham Lincoln made his first speech, he ran for Congress, he said to his constituents ''Politics are short and sweet like the old woman's dance.'' So, I will try to be Lincolness today, short and sweet.
First, I want to say that the movie industry supports H.R. 154, and I want to especially applaud Mr. Hefley and all of his colleagues for the design work they did on this legislation. I think it is first class. The movie industry is quite willing and ready to pay reasonable fees for filming, and I think the architecture of the way these fees will be developed takes a common sense approach, and that is the number of people in the production crew and the number of days of the shoot. That is really the only sensible way that you can gauge how to make these fees work.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, I think the bill is a model of simplicity and clarity but most of all it has a clean set of rules which apply to all public lands, so that any movie company instantly knows if it intends to shoot on that land for, say, 10 days and they bring in 12 people, the know instantly what their costs will be, and that takes all the burden off the taxpayer, and I vote for that.
I have a couple of suggestions which I offer you that I hope you will consider and in your wisdom decide whether or not they make any sense. On page 2 of the bill, lines 4 and 5, it says something about the Secretary shall determine if the use is appropriate. Now, that language has the smell to me of script approval. Script approval before the shoot begins, and it seems to me that we ought not involve the Secretary in First Amendment issues. That is boggy ground, and it ought terrain that we should avoid else judicial antagonisms arise.
My second suggestion has to do page 3, and I think it is line 7 which talks about surface disturbances being a part of the fee. Well, as members of this Subcommittee know, any renovation of surface disturbances is part of what we call cost recovery which the movie companies have been paying gladly in years past. Mr. Chairman, almost without exception, when a production company finishes its shoot on public lands, it leaves the landscape in far better shape than when they began the shoot, and I have got example after example after example.
Finally, I want to say that you should know that the American movie dominates all the theaters, television screens, video stores, and more than 150 countries on this wrapped and weary planet, and, indeed, the film industry returns to this country annually more than $4 billion in surplus balance of trade which is a phrase that is seldom heard in the corridors of this Congress when we are today bleeding from trade deficits.
And, moreover, and my final point is that every time billions of peopleand that is what we are talking aboutsee a American films that have been filmed on U.S. public lands, it is the most enticing kind of tourism ad that you can imagine, and we are enticing millions of people to come here as kind of global free advertising to the American treasury. I know that possibly you may be enchanted with what I am saying up here, but I think I will stop now, because that is the essence of what I wanted to say.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Valenti may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Valenti.
Mr. Voorhees, it is always a pleasure to have you before the Committee. We will turn to you now, sir.
STATEMENT OF PHILIP H. VOORHEES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL PROGRAMS, NATIONAL PARKS AND CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION
Mr. VOORHEES. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your scheduling this as one of the first things up in this Committee this year. Mr. Hefley, I very much appreciate your leadership on the issue. We are totally on board with your bill, with your approach, and I agree fully with virtually everything that has been said about the bill in past witnesses as well as Mr. Valenti.
Of course, there is a long and storied history of filming involvement in public lands dating well before the 1948 prohibition of return of fees to the Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service which comes about by unknown reasons, I think, for all of us. Nonetheless, it is time to correct the problem, and I am pleased to say that last year in early April, NPCA put together a forum to discuss the issue with representatives of NPCA as well as virtually all of the other industry sectors to sit down for a day-long discussion with congressional staff. Virtually everybody who has been involved has an interest in the issue to really work out what are the finer points of what is needed for legislation. I am very pleased to say that there was full cooperation with all the industry sectors, and there was a lot of very constructive and useful information interchange, both among the industry representatives as well as those of us in conservation, the members of congressional staff, and all of the land management agencies. With that, we came out with a variety of points that are listed in the written testimony, and I don't think I need to go through what are really ensconced in one way or another in Mr. Hefley's legislation, and I very much appreciate that.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think if there is only point that I would add to the structure of the bill, something which is substantially silent, I think, in the legislation as it is written now, and that is including as a factor in how you calculate the fee. It is the size of the physical footprint. Surely, there is a strong metric that you can use in calculating what an appropriate fee would be in terms of the number of folks involved in the filming, but I imagine there are probably occasions in which you have a larger expansive land needed for the shoot but not all that many people involved, and if that is the case, I think that ought to be a reasonable consideration when you are talking about developing a structure for a fee schedule.
That really is the only point that I would like to make, but I will say that in my review of the bill and my involvement with the land management agencies and with staff in trying to move through what are the points that need to be covered in any legislation as it moves forward, the concern about the Secretary determining an appropriatenessthe concern you raised earlier, Mr. Valentidoesn't strike me that that is the intent at all. I think the intent probablyand I don't mean to step in front of you, Mr. Hefleyis that the Secretary have the ability to determine whether certain kinds of, say, pyrotechnic are acceptable or not on certain kinds of public lands in certain situations. It doesn't strike me as being overstepping the bounds, but I am sure there is no flavor here of censorship. I really doubt there is that intent, and from our perspective that can be worked out to make it more in line with your concerns. I certainly would want to be on board with that.
With that, really, frankly, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Hefley, and other members of the Committee, I conclude my testimony. I want to express my appreciation for your bringing up this legislation so early. We were fully on board last year. This is yet another example of the direction I think we need to go in in terms of having commercial users of public lands pay their fair share especially in light of increasing fees being asked of the general public for visitation and use. So, I think it is fully in line with the direction in which we want to go. On concessions reform, Mr. Chairman, you are a leader on that issue, and I appreciate that, because it has been a long time in coming, and finally it is done. This is another thing that should line up behind up, and, again, I want to express my appreciation for everybody in the industry who has been involved in agreeing that this can and should be done and can be done easily with the agreement of all parties in a way that is totally fair to all concerned. Thank you.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Voorhees may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Voorhees.
The gentleman from Puerto Rico, questions for our witnesses?
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. No questions. I just wanted to take the opportunity to say hello my good friend, Jack Valenti, and it has been a quite a while. I haven't seen you, and it is nice to see you again, Mr. Valenti, and I appreciate your testimony, and I don't think there is any controversy about this bill at all, so I appreciate also your comments and your suggestions. Thank you very much.
Mr. VALENTI. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Hefley.
Mr. HEFLEY. Yes, I want to thank both of you gentlemen, not only for your testimony but for your help. Jack, you and your people have been just super as we work through this process. I wish all the bills went like this, and, likewise, with the Park Department. I think both of you have made some interesting suggestions here that we will take note of and see if we can clarify that in some way. There certainly was no intent to give the Interior Department script approval. That wasn't the idea as our friend from the Parks Service said, and we will see if we can clarify that.
Also, when we get this bill out of the Houseand we hope to do it as soon as possiblewe would appreciate your help as we get to the Senate. I don't think there is controversy over there, it is just a matter of getting them to move, and if you will help us with that, we will work hard at it and you will too, and maybe we can have this thing out and solved fairly early in the year, and we hope so. I thank both of you for all your work on this.
Mr. HANSEN. I appreciate the gentleman's comments. I hope you take those to heart. You have got to realize in 1981 when I came here as a freshman Tip O'Neil said, ''The House does all the work; the Senate gets all the attention,'' and this Committee sent 30-something bills, close to 40 bills, over to the Senate last time, and they didn't do zilch with most of them. We moved most of them in the last minutes of the last days of unanimous consent, and, frankly, there is nothing I find more frustrating than to send a good piece of legislation over and have those guys sit on it forever. But, of course, they are running for President, and we understand how important that is.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
The gentleman from Arizona.
Mr. HAYWORTH. I thank the Subcommittee Chairman, and just to my friends who testified today, thank you, especially my good friend, Jack Valenti, sir, we know you have a career that supplements what transpires on the silver screen, but your performance today was worthy of five stars, and we thank you for it.
Mr. HANSEN. We thank you for being here. Mr. Valenti, in 1981, you took our freshman class to see a show on you called ''Eye of the Needle'' and I remember that
Mr. VALENTI. You have got a good memory, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. We appreciate that and remember that very well, and as Mr. Hefley points out, we will move this legislation. I don't think there is any controversy with this one except getting it out of the Senate. I would hope you just give it all the shot you can, and thank you so very much, and we will excuse this panel.
Mr. VALENTI. Thank you very much.
Mr. VOORHEES. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Our final panel will be Mr. David Silva, H.R. 150 he will be talking to. Mr. Silva is the principal of Alpine Elementary School from Apache County, Arizona; Mr. Arthur N. Lee, supervisor of District 3, Apache County, Arizona, and Clarence Bigelow, county manager, Apache County, Arizona. We appreciate you gentlemen being with us; that is very kind of you.
As you have seen, the controversial issue today is you folks. So, can you handle your testimony in five minutes? You know the rules; you have heard what others have said. If you have to go over, by all means go ahead.
Mr. Silva, we will turn to you, sir.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF DAVID SILVA, PRINCIPAL, ALPINE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, APACHE COUNTY, ARIZONA
Mr. SILVA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. First, let me express a word of appreciation to Congressman J.D. Hayworth. Through his efforts and the Congress of the 104th, 1996, Alpine was the proud recipient of Federal land, and the community of Alpine, the elementary school governing board, and the students of Alpine expressed their appreciation to members who currently serve, who perhaps served on the previous Congress that enabled Alpine to acquire the Federal land.
As a principal of the Alpine Elementary School, let me just profile quickly the Alpine School District. Alpine Elementary School is a small school district in northeastern Arizona, as Congressman Hayworth has pointed out. It is completely surrounded by Federal land, forest land. The principal economy of the Alpine community has been the forest industry and cattle ranching. With the demise of the forest, the timber sales currently, the minimizing of grazing lands to the cattlemen in the area, Alpine is severely, negatively impacted. In addition to lack of industry, we are limited in a tax base because of the limited private land. Alpine is a community of approximately 5 miles square, give or take, and so the economy is severely depressed. It was refreshing to hear earlier that it appeared on both sides of the aisle that there is a sensitivity to the plight of rural schools in America.
This bill, H.R. 150, as I understand it, seems like a reasonable solution to other districts facing similar problems as the Alpine school. I say this because having experienced the process in previous years, to get an answer to the time frame from the initial inception or introduction of the bill to the time that it was actually recorded in the county recorders office was about 18 months, and there were numerous stumbling blocks along the way the school district had to cover, namely covering the cost of the appraisal; namely, covering the cost of the survey; namely, covering the cost of the environmental impact and hazardous waste. So, there were numerous costs that were related to the process.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To give you an idea of the 18 month process and the finality of the recording of the bill in October of 1997, there is also the development of infrastructure with water, sanitation, the utilities, electricity, power, and so the process is much lengthier than we would actually imagine going into it.
I see, personally, having reviewed the language of H.R. 150, that it would provide for benefits without giving order of priority but, namely, the youth would be the direct beneficiaries of this legislation. Secondarily, there would be uniformity. It appears that there would be uniformity in processing of BLM and Forest lands. There would be equity to schools, and in the equity all students, again, would be the direct beneficiaries.
I would be happy to respond to questions as they arise. Congressman Hayworth understands the community of Alpine very well. I am sure that he has visited and communicated with each of you individually, and, again, we wish to express our thanks to you, Congressman Hayworth, for your efforts in the past.
At this point, I will conclude my remarks, and I will answer questions directly as they may arise. Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Silva may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Silva.
STATEMENT OF CLARENCE BIGELOW, COUNTY MANAGER, APACHE COUNTY, ARIZONA
Mr. BIGELOW. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. Apache County is very familiar with camels getting their nose under the tent. For example, we had a thriving timber industry and were promised by the Forest Service it would continue. We had a thriving cattle industry and were promised that would continue if we would concede and allow some dissipation of the forest industry and cattle industry. We now have no timber industry. The cattle industry is virtually having its last gasp.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We believe that this bill, H.R. 150, is very essential to our county and other counties in our State and adjoining States. For example, had Alpine had to purchase that 30 acres, the land in the Alpine area is going for roughly around $24,000 an acre. You can imagine what that would have cost the Alpine school district had they tried to purchase that land from the Forest Service. No way could they have done it when they have a maintenance and operating budget of approximately $340,000. The land would have cost them several times more than their annual operating budget.
Vernon, in our county, is in a similar situation. The school district there is virtually surrounded by forest land. The school district in Gila County up in the timber area has the same problem. The Navajo County School District in the Pinetop Lakeside area has the same problem. They are on permit right now in Navajo County. Permits are like the old proverbial statement, ''The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.'' Well, the Forest Service does the same thing. We have that classic example in the permit of the cattlemen having no longer permits or permits cut astronomically below value.
A permit is nothing but a hope that you can keep the school district on that land. Greenlee County has two school districts on permit in the Eagle Creek area and in the Blue River area which is now being impacted very heavily by the environmental concerns. How long will those permits lasts? We don't know, but we do know that permits disappear when the pressure is on. The land exchange creates a problem; it doesn't really work in our county. All of the land exchanges that have occurred with the Forest Service eliminate private land in the forest area and then the exchange is in the premier land near Tucson, Phoenix, and the metropolitan areas, so we then continue to lose tax base. Our country right now has approximately 14 percent private land in the county, and it is decreasing every time land exchange occurs. So, our only hope for education in these mountain communities clear across from Flagstaff into New Mexico is this bill that J.D. Hayworth has presented to give security to our education and to our young people.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That, basically, is my added comments to my written statement which you have, and we implore you to seriously, carry this bill and pass it, and, hopefully, the whole Congress will pass it, because it is vital to your rural counties in the western States. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bigelow may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Bigelow.
STATEMENT OF ARTHUR N. LEE, SUPERVISOR, DISTRICT 3, APACHE COUNTY, ARIZONA
Mr. LEE. Chairman Hansen and members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity just to testify. For the record, my name is Arthur N. Lee, supervisor from Apache County. On behalf of Apache County and the Coalition of Arizona and New Mexico Counties for Stable Economic Growth, I come before you today in support of H.R. 150.
For several years now, our county's mountain community schools have suffered economic hardship. Dropping enrollments are common as logging, ranching, and mining families are forced by regulations and court decisions to move out of the towns they grew up in. In Apache County and Greenlee County alone, at least five school districtsAlpine, Blue, Eagle Creek, Vernon, and Round Valleyface these problems. The result of losing these families is a drop in bonding capacity, school property tax revenues, and in-school district revenues. With loss of funds and bonding ability, our mountain schools are in many cases unable to acquire property critical to the service of their students. This happened in the Alpine School District which is in my county supervisors district. Fortunately, with assistance from my good friend J.D. Hayworth, we were able to get a grant of land for them.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In Round Valley area alone, we just lost the Eagle Sawmill, the largest remaining sawmill in the Southwest. Due to the forced elimination of timber harvesting, they were forced to permanently close the mill and lay off 70 remaining workers. When the mill ran at full capacity in 1989, it directly and indirectly employed almost 700 people, including mill workers, loggers, timber haulers, and so forth.
While hope remains that good sense will return the harvesting of timber in time to save our forests from catastrophic fires and save our mill, it is equally important to save our cattle industry.
As a result of the loss of timber and the cattle industry, more families will move out of our school district. It will force the schools to lay off teachers, cut critical programs, and cripple the quality of our children's education.
Mr. Chairman, the problems I have described to you are happening to schools in many rural Arizona and New Mexico counties as a result of lawsuits and environmental regulations that continue to shut down our economic base industries, destroy our way of life, and ruin the education of our children. For example, the Blue and Eagle Creek schools in Greenlee County are located in public forest lands. The loss of ranching and timber families have forced these schools to periodically close, and they live on constant fear that their schools land leases will not be renewed.
In Navajo County, Arizona, costs of regulations for schools on public lands drives the cost of education up at a time of increasing uncertainty. In Greenlee County, Arizona, only 3.8 percent of the total land base is private ownership. with some school districts located in areas with less than 1 percent private property. The ability of these schools to receive a grant of land would give them more security and improve their financial situation.
The passage of this bill should also help many school districts lower their expenses by eliminating those schools' need to lease property, lower the cost of building expenses, and provide quality outdoor educational opportunities for our children. In addition, local governments can benefit from greater social stability and expansion on essential community services.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, for the sake of our children, our families, and our schools, we urge that you pass H.R. 150. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lee may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Lee. The gentleman from Puerto Rico.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I only wanted to thank the witness for their testimony and for giving us the living examples of the needs that they have in their communities for this land and the lack of land available in western areas and western States. I can't think of anybodyand the other committee I belong to is the Education and Workforce CommitteeI can't think of a single member of the House Education and Workforce Committee who would not agree with the purposes of this legislation, and I don't think of any Members of Congress that would not agree with the purposes of this legislation. There are still things that we are going to have to iron out, but I don't see any problem. I am sure that they will be ironed out, and I think that you can rest assured that Mr. Hayworth's efforts will be available eventually to all of the communities in the West. That is my feeling. Thank you very much.
Mr. HANSEN. I appreciate the gentleman's comments and agree with them. The gentleman from Arizona.
Mr. HAYWORTH. I thank the Subcommittee chairman, and I thank my colleague from Puerto Rico for his support of this and I especially thank my constituents who are here, Mr. Silva in his role so important on the front lines of education offering eloquent testimony of the challenges involved in trying to envision a project; trying to literally get something done; clearing all the hurdles created by the challengessome would be tempted to say almost the persecution of rural communities and the livelihoods that have been traditional and very practical and I believe help strive to strike a balance in these rural communities, but also reminding us of our most precious resource, our children.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To my good friend, Mr. Bigelow, who very eloquently pointed out how familiar rural westerners are with the phrase used by Mr. Brouha of the Forest Service about the camel's nose under the tent. This seemingly relentless march to subjugate those who live in western States involved in legitimate entities to somehow suspend those economic endeavors; to create hardship for those who administer the laws within the counties and I felt especially eloquent his notion that the regulatory agencies are now put in a position where they giveth and they taketh away. And let the record indicate, Mr. Chairman, that here we sit in a Subcommittee hearing, and perhaps those who joined us from the administration were not required to stay, but the Subcommittee Chair pointed out to us the importance of public policy, and, yes, as constitutional officers, we are accountable, but how far afield in the culture of Washington it is for those who are charged with the execution of public duties, many of whom are noble and work hard, who come under the heading of bureaucrats, how unfortunate it is that our friend from the Forest Service who was here could not extend the dignity or make the time in his schedule to stay here and hear the eloquent testimony of people on the front lines such as my colleagues.
Mr. Lee, you pointed out not only within your supervisory district, but throughout the areas of my congressional district and throughout the rural West the challenges faced. I think it is unfortunate that even as our friend from the Forest Service very politely took the suggestion of the Subcommittee Chair, for whatever purposes and pressures of scheduling, no one could stay and listen to the testimony of my constituents. I know it has not fallen on deaf ears within this Subcommittee chamber, and I look forward to working with people on what is truly a bipartisan aim to improve education for children living in the rural West.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. I appreciate the gentleman's comments. The gentleman has brought an issue up that has always been kind of a sticky point in this Committee, and seeing this is our first hearing of the 106th, I didn't think of it, but in the past, sometimes we put these folks on first and let the Forest Service, BLM, and Park Service sit there, and make sure they come on last so they can respond. In fact, if I had thought about that, I probably would have done that. It didn't cross my mind, but I have asked Mr. Griffith here, my staff, to make sure that the Forest Service gets your testimony which will going out today to them.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And let me join with my friend from Puerto Rico and other members who have commented on this, I have you have an extremely meritorious issue before you here. As far as this Subcommittee is concerned, we will move this legislation. I think it will probably also move through the full Committee without any trouble. I would seriously doubt if there would be many problems on the floor. If I was giving anybody counsel here today, I would say the problem happens to be over in the House of Lords, and if you make sure you go over there and petition your Arizona folks and your western senator friends to move it, you will probably get something done. They are notorious for putting things off.
I think the hallmark of the Senate is ''When in doubt, procrastinate,'' and I say that somewhat respectfully, but not much. But, anyway, if I was youI don't think you are going to have any problem on this side, but over there that thing has a way of just sitting. You may see that I am the true prophet when this happens.
Anyway, with that said, I thank all three witnesses for their excellent testimony, and I think this concludes the matter. This Subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:29 a.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF TOM FRY, (ACTING) DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify on H.R. 15, the Otay Mountain Wilderness Act of 1999. I want to commend the bill's sponsor, Congressman Brian Bilbray for introducing this legislation which recognizes the unique nature of the area by protecting its many outstanding and precious natural resources for generations to come.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) strongly supports H.R. 15. We also recognize and appreciate the Subcommittee's work last Congress which amended H.R. 3950, the Otay Mountain Wilderness bill, also introduced by Mr. Bilbray. Our only objection to H.R. 3950 was the Section 6(b) language on Border Enforcement, Drug Interdiction, and Wildland Fire Protection. The amended Section 6(b) language, which appears in H.R. 15, was requested by the Administration and is in keeping with the mandate and intent of the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to comment briefly on Secretary Babbitt's recent tour of Otay Mountain. While there, the Secretary met with many individuals and local officials committed to preserving the special resources of this area. He was very impressed, encouraged, persuaded and enlightened by the diverse group he traveled with including Representative Bob Filner, San Diego County representatives, the staffs to Senators Feinstein and Boxer, staff to Congressman Brian Bilbray, the San Diego Association of Governments, the California Biodiversity Council, the Sierra Club, the Endangered Habitat League, The Wilderness Society, the U.S. Border Patrol and BLM officials.
H.R. 15 would designate 18,500 acres of the Otay Mountain area in eastern San Diego County, adjacent to the U.S.Mexico International Border, as BLM wilderness. Otay Mountain is located in an extremely unique and diverse area of the country. The area is important to San Diego's ongoing habitat conservation initiatives which the Department strongly supports. BLM currently manages Otay Mountain to preserve and maintain its wilderness character and we strongly support its continued protection and the wilderness designation envisioned in H.R. 15.
I would like to provide a brief discussion of certain aspects of the area's history and resources to help new Subcommittee Members better understand the vast array of public land management issues in this scenic and ecologically diverse area. The Otay Mountain area has long been recognized by the public as a unique ecosystem. As early as 1962, the Secretary of the Interior created the Otay Mountain National Cooperative Land and Wildlife Management Area. Management direction for the area has focused on conservation of the area's flora, fauna, ecologic, geologic, cultural and scenic values as well as the protection of its wilderness values. In the 1980's, BLM established the Western and Southern Otay Mountain WSAs and, with strong public support (including a 1982 resolution from the San Diego Board of Supervisors), ultimately recommended a large portion of the WSAs as wilderness.
In addition to its natural attributes, the area has opportunities for solitude, open space and primitive recreation, and possesses nationally significant biological values. These include stands of rare Tecate Cypress and 15-20 other sensitive vegetative species. The proposed wilderness also contains an Area of Critical Environmental Concern which was established by BLM with strong public support. In addition, the City of San Diego has identified the region as a ''core reserve'' in open-space planning, and the California Department of Fish and Game and local universities have had a long interest in studying and monitoring the area's flora and fauna. Wilderness designation would secure a unique ecosystem in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Unfortunately, the area has experienced extensive resource damage in the last few years as a result of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross through the region. In addition, an October 1996 wildfire inflicted considerable short-term damage. However, with close coordination and onsite work among the BLM, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Border Patrol, the City, County, and other interests, a dramatic reduction in illegal traffic has occurred and the area appears to be restoring itself.
Finally, as a result of a recent court decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia which concerned maps that were not on file at the time legislation was enacted, we believe that it is essential for the Committee to work with the Department to develop a dated and filed map prior to the enactment of this legislation.
This concludes my statement and I would be glad to answer any questions you may have.
STATEMENT OF PAUL BROUHA, ASSOCIATE DEPUTY CHIEF, FOREST SERVICE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE:
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to present the Administration's views concerning H.R. 150, amendments to the Recreation and Public Purposes Act to dispose of National Forest lands to education agencies. The Administration commented on H.R. 2223 regarding this subject during a hearing before this Subcommittee last year. I am accompanied today by James B. Snow, Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Department of Agriculture.
While the Administration supports the objective of making Federal lands available in certain circumstances for public purposes, the Administation strongly opposes this bill.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, the bill is unnecessary because current statutory authority exists to make land available for educational purposes. Second, the bill would permit the disposal of National Forest lands for less than fair market value. Third, the deadline requirement to make the conveyance decision within 60 days is entirely inadequate.
Concerns about H.R. 150
The Administration appreciates the efforts the Subcommittee has made to address the concern raised last year regarding H.R. 2223. However, H.R. 150 continues to raise serious problems for the Administration.
First, to include the disposal of National Forest lands for public purposes under Recreation and Public Purposes Act of 1926 (R&PPA) is unnecessary because the Secretary of Agriculture has existing authorities to accommodate public uses through authorities to permit, lease, exchange, and dispose of National Forest lands. For example, under the Townsite Act, the Secretary of Agriculture may convey, for fair market value, up to 640 acres of land to established communities located adjacent to National Forests in Alaska and in the contiguous western states. Within certain limits, the Sisk Act of 1967 authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to exchange lands with states, counties, or municipal governments or public school districts for lands or lands and money. Moreover, the Secretary of Agriculture can exchange National Forest lands with State and local governments.
Second, the Administration objects to H.R. 150 because it would permit the disposal of National Forest lands for less than fair market value. The taxpayers of the United States should receive fair market value for the sale exchange, or use of their National Forest lands. Unlike the R&PPA, other land exchange laws require the Secretary of Agriculture to obtain fair market value for exchanges or sales of National Forest lands. Indeed, the Federal policy backed by bipartisan coalition in the executive and legislative branches in recent decades has moved toward maximizing return to the public for the value of lands conveyed out of Federal ownership. The Administration objects to legislation that would reverse that policy by opening the door to less than fair market value consideration for the disposition of National Forest lands.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Third, the Administration objects to the requirement that, within 60 days, a decision on the R&PPA conveyance must be made. Decisions about the appropriate uses of National Forest lands and resources are accomplished through the forest planning process under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under NFMA and NEPA, the Forest Service analyzes important environmental issues and the public is extensively involved. During this process, local Forest Service officials work closely with state and local governments to identify their concerns, needs for land, and lands appropriate for land ownership adjustments.
These processes take time, and since every land adjustment is unique, it would be difficult to predetermine an appropriate amount of time necessary to complete the environmental analysis. In fact, such a limit would only serve to create expectations that the agency could not meet and undermine the credibility of its public involvement process and environmental analysis. The agency strongly believes that attempts to short circuit environmental and public processes will only lead to more controversy.
Mr. Chairman, while the Administration supports the general objective of making Federal lands available for education purposes, the Administration strongly opposes H.R. 150. However, the Administration remains open to discussions with the Subcommittee on other ideas for this bill.
This concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer any questions you and Members of the Subcommittee might have.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF STEPHEN SAUNDERS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR FISH, WILDLIFE & PARKS
Thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 154, a bill to provide for the collection of fees for the making of motion pictures, television productions, and soundtracks on all Department of Interior lands and facilities, including those in the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System units, Bureau of Land Management managed lands, and facilities managed by the Bureau of Reclamation. The Administration supports this bill, which is in accord with the President's FY 2000 Budget.
H.R. 154 would allow the Secretary of the Interior to charge a fee sufficient to provide a fair return to the government for filming on lands administered by the Department of the Interior. The bill is identical to the version of H.R. 2993 that was reported out of the House Committee on Resources in the 105th Congress and passed the House. H.R. 154 would also repeal the present regulations governing the issuance of film permits in parks, and refuges. Under existing regulation 43 CFR. 5.1 (b), the National Park Service (NPS), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are prohibited from charging fees for the making of motion pictures, television productions, or sound tracks in NPS or FWS units. The regulation does not prohibit NPS and FWS from recovering the costs associated with administering film permits.
Units of the park system, the wildlife refuge system, and BLM managed lands have played significant roles in many different types of motion picture, television productions, and commercial advertisements. Over the past three fiscal years, more than 1,000 permits were issued for filming on BLM managed lands. NPS has issued approximately 4,500 filming permits during this time. Many of the permits issued by NPS, BLM, and FWS are for small productions, some of which are commercial in nature, others of which are educational. However, all three agencies issue a significant number of permits to makers of major television and motion picture productions.
Although parks and refuges were created to conserve and protect natural resources and wildlife, they have played important roles in many high-grossing films. The 400-year old fortification known as ''El Morro'' in San Juan National Historic Site was used in the movie ''Amistad'' to depict a slave-trading market; the white sands of White Sands National Monument were used in the movie ''Star Wars'' to depict an otherworldly landscape; and the Linville Falls Trail in Blue Ridge Parkway was used for the ambush scene in ''Last of the Mohicans.'' These are but a few of the hundreds of memorable films that have been filmed in national parks over the years. The list includes ''Dances with Wolves,'' filmed in part in Badlands National Park, ''The Deer Hunter,'' made in part in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and ''In the Line of Fire,'' filmed at several NPS sites throughout the National Capital Region. FWS units have also played host to memorable motion pictures. The exciting chase scene at the opening of ''The Raiders of the Lost Ark,'' with Harrison Ford was filmed in Hanalei and Huleia National Wildlife Refuges. The movie ''Uncommon Valor,'' a story about a Vietnam War veteran, was filmed in part at the same refuges in Hawaii. Recently, filming of the movie ''Random Hearts'' with Harrison Ford occurred in part at Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is often the unique nature of public lands that attracts filmmakers. In some cases, public lands may be the only option for a filmmaker whose story is inextricably tied to something that may only exist on public lands. We believe the public has the right to be compensated for the commercial use of this uniqueness.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) filming policy is governed by the 43 CFR 2920 regulations, which allows the agency to recover its costs for processing and monitoring permits and charge fair market value for filming. Cost recovery can be substantial on major productions. The BLM allows each of its state offices to set their own fee schedules based on market values of filming activities on other lands. The California office, for instance, will charge up to $600 per day per location for the use of its public lands for filming. The BLM's fee schedule does not appear to be a deterrent for filming on the public lands managed by BLM, as these lands have been used as sites for such films as ''The Horse Whisperer,'' ''The River Wild,'' and ''Maverick.'' The United States Forest Service is also statutorily authorized to charge fair market value for filming. It allows its regional offices to set fee schedules which are similar to BLM's fee schedules. For example, the Southern California Regional office of the Forest Service charges up to $600 per day per location for filming in Forest Service sites in southern California.
Other land-owning governmental entities charge even higher fees than our sister Federal agencies. The Navajo Nation, for instance, charges up to $2,000 a day for the use of Monument Valley, the site of many memorable films. Similarly, the city of Beverly Hills in California charges fees that exceed $2,000 per day for filming in its city parks.
Ironically, the NPS and the FWS charged for filming prior to November 1948. Prior to 1945, film-permitting policy was governed by Secretarial Orders which allowed the NPS to charge as much as $500 per day for filming. That is equivalent to more than $10,000 in today's dollars. In 1945 a new Secretarial Order was put in place that permitted NPS to negotiate even higher fees than this for large-scale productions. These fees were more than twice the amount that the General Land Office (BLM's predecessor agency) was allowed to charge at the time. It is unclear why this policy was changed in late 1948, but it should be noted that when NPS charged for filming, movies were still made in parks. Many films, including 1947's ''Sea of Grass,'' starring Spencer Tracy, and filmed in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and 1948's ''Yellow Sky,'' starring Gregory Peck, and filmed in Death Valley National Monument, were made when NPS charged for filming.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In late 1948, the precursor to the current 43 CFR 5.1 was issued, which prohibited NPS from charging filming fees. Another change in this regulation in 1957 prohibited FWS from charging fees for filming. We have searched our files but have not yet discovered why the regulations on filming fees were changed for NPS and FWS.
NPS and FWS are also concerned that their inability to charge fees may be attracting permit applications from filmmakers who would seek other lands if fees were charged. The mission of NPS and FWS is to protect natural and cultural resources and wildlife. These agencies were not set up to attract filming business. Yet, by prohibiting these agencies from establishing fees the present regulations make these public lands more attractive to filmmakers whose films could also be made on other governmental or tribal lands. H.R. 154 would correct this anomaly by repealing 43 C.F.R. 5.1 and giving the Secretary of the Interior the authority to charge fees that are at least comparable to the fees charged by other agencies.
The authority given to the Secretary would allow the Secretary to establish a schedule of rates for fees based on such factors as the number of people on site, duration of activities, the use of ''special use'' areas including wilderness, and any surface disturbances authorized under a permit. H.R. 154 would allow the fees collected for filming on Interior public lands and facilities to be distributed in the same manner as revenue collected under the recreation fee demonstration program. Under this program, fees are remitted to a special account in the Treasury. Eighty percent of the fees in the account go back to the park, refuge unit, or BLM office that generated the fees. Twenty percent of these fees are available for distribution throughout the NPS, FWS, and BLM systems.
Subsection (b) of H.R. 154 provides that no fee shall be charged for any bonafide newsreel or news television film gathering, or for still photography that does not include product or service advertisements or the use of models, sets or props or would not result in damage to resources or a significant disruption to normal visitor uses. We support this provision.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Department is extremely supportive of the goals of H.R. 154. The public deserves to receive a fair return for the use of Department lands and facilities that play an important role in motion pictures, television productions, and soundtracks. The public will also benefit from a fee distribution system that would allow each land management agency to retain the fees generated under these permits. We are confident that H.R. 154 would accomplish this goal without compromising the Department's primary mission of protecting the resources under its care. Thank you for this opportunity, and I would be happy to answer any of your questions.
STATEMENT OF JACK VALENTI, PRESIDENT & CEO, MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, thank you for allowing me to testify on H.R. 154, which deals with the filming of motion pictures in the National Parks and public lands. I am here today to add MPAA support for the bill.
The Motion Picture Association of America is an assembly of the seven largest producers and distributors of movies, television programs, and home videos in the world: The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, Viacom, Twentieth Century Fox Films, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. In an era when the specter of ''deficit'' balance of trade haunts the Congress, the U.S. film/TV/home video industry is a robust contributor of billions of dollars of ''surplus'' balance of trade. It is a confirmed fact that the American movie is the most wanted export of the United States.
There's a wonderful world of grand vistas in the public lands. Such splendor imprisoned on film attracts audiences, which in turn beckon to producers, who are willing to pay uniform and reasonable fees for that privilege. Currently, whenever one of the major film companies wants to film in the National Park, they face different rules and regulations in different locations. The standards and requirements which they confront are sometimes so burdensome it makes filming in the parks quite unenticing. Result? Oftentimes producers seek private lands and state parks, as well as locations outside the United States. These alternatives grow more alluring when the parks make it difficult to film. Establishing a reasonable, predictable fee schedule could eliminate one source of uncertainty and help forge a positive, cooperative partnership between the producers and the parks.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our films are received joyously and hospitably on all the continents where people of varying cultures and creeds reside. Billions of people watch American movies every year. Therefore, in cinemas and homes throughout the world scenes of American parks are avidly viewed and admired. It's fair to say, then, that not only is park filming beneficial to the parks for the revenues it could produce, but also for the huge global reach of movies which captures the landscapes of the parks and enthralls international audiences, as well as the citizens of our own land. It's a kind of ''free global advertising''for the National Parks.
The objective of H.R. 154 is to encourage filming in the parks in return for reasonable fees, which will provide new revenues to the parks without burdening the taxpayers. We support that goal. I am here today to declare our enthusiasm for the aim of this bill and perhaps offer some suggestions we believe will add to the benefits the bill confers on the parks.
Right now, the National Parks Service cannot charge fees for filming. Although the parks can be reimbursed for costs of filming (Ranger time, parking, use of campgrounds, et cetera) these reimbursements don't provide real financial support to the parks. As a result, park administrators can become indifferent to filming, or even hostile because their efforts to promote movie making in the park don't produce for them any direct return. What happens is that film producers do regularly make contributions to non-profits associated with the parks, but it's all a grab bag of unpredictable and wildly inconsistent levels.
Last Congress, we came to this Committee with suggestions for bringing discipline to the fee process, attracting producers to the parks, and enlarging benefits to the parks. I would like to thank the Committee, and in particular, Congressman Joel Hefley for working with all the interested parties and coming up with the reasonable approach embodied in H.R. 154.
We support H.R. 154 for several reasons:
FIRST, because the fee is based fundamentally on the number of people in the crew and the number of days of the shoot. Why is this the most sensible approach? Size of the crew is the best indicator of the complexity of the shoot.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC LETHAL WEAPON IV might have 35 people on the special effects crew alone. TITANIC had 45 people in its costuming segment. A smaller film group might not have that many people in its entire crew. A TV commercial crew might number only 10 people.
This approach is simple, clear, and predictable. Every producer knows immediately what the costs will be.
SECOND, the Hefley bill applies the fee schedule uniformly to all of Interior's lands, not just the national parks. Out of the current rag-tag fee process will come a clean set of rules applied across the board.
THIRD, in H.R. 154, the land where the filming occurs retains most of the fees (80 percent) collected. Not only does this relieve some taxpayer burden, but also it will surely enliven park administrators' interest in being hospitable to film producers and that they will reap the rewards that come from responsible filming in the parks.
FOURTH, we appreciate the work this Committee did in the last Congress to clarify the meaning of the statutory phrase that requires the Secretary of Interior to determine that the use of the filming permit is ''
''appropriate.'' On page 3, of report 105-678 accompanying H.R. 2993, I quote ''The word 'appropriate' is included to ensure this legislation tracks with other fee structures and as a common sense guide for the Secretary in issuing permits under this bill. The Congressional intent of the word 'appropriate' should not be construed by nor does it confer rights upon the Secretary for script approval or censorship. The word 'appropriate' means that permits should not be issued at sights where filming activity will result in a gross disruption of public use of the site.''
Last Congress we came to you with suggestions to make this legislation workable, and we thank you for listening. In fact, we are so pleased that you listened that we have a further suggestion . . .
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Streamline the fee structure by limiting the factors for deriving the fee to the (1) number of people on site and (2) duration of activities under a permit. Surface disturbances are actually a ''cost'' and thus would be reimbursed to the local parks as such. ''Streamlining'' is a popular word in Congress and by limiting the factors, the process would be even simpler and more predictable for all.
We applaud the efforts of Mr. Hefley and of the Committee. Film producers want to film in the national parks. They want to pay fees which are reasonable, sensible, certainand expeditiously determined. Most of all, they are pleased that their films, exhibited in over 150 countries, advertise to the world the unduplicatable beauties of our national parks, irreplaceable treasures which belong to the American citizenry.
We look forward to working with you.
STATEMENT OF PHILIP H. VOORHEES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL PROGRAMS, NATIONAL PARKS AND CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION
Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee, my name is Phil Voorhees. I represent the National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA) whose testimony I present today. NPCA is America's only private, non-profit citizen organization dedicated solely to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the National Park System.
I am delighted to appear before you to testify in support of Mr. Hefley's filming fee reform legislation.
NPCA supports the Subcommittee's intent to charge reasonable and fair fees for commercial filming and recording activities in areas administered by the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. We appreciate the opportunity to present our views on this small, yet important aspect of commercial use of our Federal lands. I will focus my remarks on the legislation as it relates to the National Park System.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The relationship between Hollywood and the national parks is long and storied. From ''Star Trek'' to ''Star Wars'' to ''Robinson Crusoe on Mars,'' national parks have provided the backdrop for both box office blockbusters and forgettable B movies, to say nothing of thousands of filmed commercials. The list of movies filmed in the parks runs tens of pages long and includes such films as ''Thelma and Louise,'' ''Maverick,'' ''Forest Gump'' and ''Gettysburg.''
The films and commercials run the gamut of genre types from westerns to science fiction, but one thread remains common throughout. Every one of the films, whether it made money or not provided almost nothing to the parks in return for the privilege of using public lands. As the law now stands, the National Park Service is authorized to recoup only the cost of monitoring the filming, a negligible application fee and the cost of any damage remediation. For example, when Mister Spock needed to beam down to the planet Vulcan for the film ''Star Trek,'' Hollywood chose the geothermal terraces of Yellowstone. In return, we understand the Park Service received the grand sum of $300, while the film went on to gross more than $50 million.
By comparison, if the same scene were filmed on private property, the production company would have had to pay up to $8,500 per day as a location fee. This issue boils down to a question of fairness. It is simply unreasonable to ask the visiting public to pay increased entrance and use fees while at the same time fees for commercial uses of the national parksfrom concessions to commercial filminghave remained astonishingly low, or even free. When it passed S. 1693 (the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998) last year, Congress took a significant step toward ensuring that the government would receive a fair return from concessioners operating in the parks. It is time to take that same step with the film industry.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To the extent that the commercial filming industry has openly announced its willingness to correct this imbalance, the Committee has a rare opportunity to craft a solution that both addresses the problem fairly and reflects the support of both the conservation community and the affected industry. Before continuing, I want to voice NPCA's appreciation to the many facets of the commercial filming industry, for their openness and cooperation in f
inding a solution to this problem.
Opportunities for Legislative Solution
Rather than addressing the specific language of H.R. 154, I will focus on some of the principles that need to be reflected in any piece of legislation if it is to address the needs of the parks while incorporating the reasonable desires of the filming industry.
On April 8 of last year, NPCA invited representatives of the commercial filming industry, the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and congressional staff to a workshop session to discuss the dynamics of commercial filming on Federal lands and parks in the U.S. We were interested in identifying the advantages and problems associated with commercial filming activities, identifying the needs and differing approaches of the land management agencies in hosting these activities, and arriving at a common understanding of facets necessary for improvement of the current situation in the eyes of both the industry and the land management agencies.
After a day-long discussion, all parties arrived at an understanding that the following characteristics must be reflected in any legislation, if that legislation is to improve upon the current situation and provide more equitable fees for the use of the parks:
The National Park Service should recover all ''direct'' and ''indirect'' costs associated with commercial filming projects within the National Park System.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition, the National Park Service should charge a fee for use of Federal property. Such fee should provide a ''fair return'' to the Park Service.
All fees collected (cost recovery and site) should be retained by the Park Service, and should be available for expenditure without further appropriation.
The filming industry needs to have certainty in the permitting and fee determination process.
Nonetheless, the industry recognizes that there will be different standards for filming on the various public lands due to the differing resource protection and use mandates among the land management agencies.
A set fee schedule, based on the impact (footprint) of the filming activity is an appropriate method for determining site fees.
Still photographers who are not using ''models or props'' should neither be required to obtain a permit nor required to pay a separate fee for commercial filming activities.
Legislation should avoid the use of the term ''fair market value.''
Problems with Fair Market Value
Last year, NPCA testified in support of House legislation that also would have allowed the Park Service to charge a fee for filming activities in the parks. That legislation proposed using a ''fair market value'' approach for determining the fee the Park Service would charge those filming in the parks. However, after hosting last year's workshop, we became convinced that, while conceptually fair, in practical terms, a fair market valuation would be extremely difficult to calculate.
The central issue, as identified and discussed in the workshop, is what is the ''market'' that would be used for the purposes of comparison? States do not provide an adequate comparison because of the perceived side benefits flowing to the state and local communities from increased exposure, general commerce (food service, lodging, et cetera) associated with commercial filming, and potentially increased tourism revenues. Because of these factors, many states provide the access for free or at very low rates. Another complicating factor in determining fair market value is the difficulty in finding comparable locations. There is only one Statue of Liberty, Devils Tower, or Crater Lake in the world, and the uniqueness of the geologic and cultural features of the national parks are frequently the very reason the industry is attracted to that location. There may be no comparable setting on state or other lands.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For these reasons, we would recommend against an approach that specifically identifies ''fair market value'' as the yardstick to assess commercial filming fees. Although it sounds good and is the principle we have supported with respect to park concessioners and other private companies making a profit through their use of the parks, in this circumstance the practice of assessing fair market value may create problems too difficult to overcome.
As currently written, H.R. 154 does not adequately reflect the primary need and responsibility of the NPS to protect the resources, first and foremost. If NPS specific commercial filming requests are likely to place park resources at risk, they must deny the permit outright, or insist on changes to provide the protection needed. Adding such an explicit provision does not imply that the commercial filming industry has an extended record of running roughshod over park resources. Rather it recognizes that problems have arisen in the past. Above all, park resources must be protected. Such language provides a necessaryif seldom invokedsafeguard against contingencies.
Another concern is for the level and distribution of the fees that result from this legislation. As with all use fees, whether derived from visitor entrance and use of the resources or commercial uses of the parks, it is vitally important that the Congress be mindful of the risk of creating perverse incentives for filming and other park activities. No matter the origin, fee streams should not be allowed to drive or otherwise influence park management decisions. Congress should be wary of ''incentivizing'' commercial filming fees for park managers to the degree that the attraction of the additional revenues colors decision making.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The points of agreement reached during NPCA's workshop with the land managers, industry representatives and congressional staff represent a significant portion of our general recommendation for legislation as it continues to evolve. The need for certainty in building a schedule approach is compelling. We would recommend therefore that a base schedule be developed for assessing fees on an individual park basis that includes the following considerations: (1) physical footprint of the proposed filming event; (2) size of the crew required for the filming; (3) length of use of the park; and (4) the level of disturbance, both in terms of inconvenience to the visitor and intrusiveness of the use. All of these factors can be arranged in a schedule that would allow the industry certainty in the cost, and would allow the Park Service to streamline the process for consideration. In addition, all such fees should be assessed as supplementary to the direct and indirect cost of managing the use of the parks by the commercial filming industry, and separate from any bonding or insurance requirements.
Thank you again for the opportunity to present NPCA's views on commercial filming in the national parks.
STATEMENT OF CLARENCE A. BIGELOW, MANAGER-CLERK, ST. JOHNS. ARIZONA
Chairman Hansen & Members of the Committee:
Thank you for this opportunity to testify. For the record, my nane is Clarence Bigelow. I currently serve as the County Manager for Apache County, Arizona.
On behalf of our children, our parents and our schools, I offer the following in support of House Resolution 150.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The government and schools of Apache County, as well as other Eastern Arizona Counties, face increasing economic and fiscal hardship at a time of increased service demands. Small schools in our County are especially hard hit by dropping enrollments, which result in lower student revenues from the state at a time of high per student costs and increasing regulatory mandates.(see footnote 1) Drops in student enrollment can be attributed in large part to the 1990-1998 reduction in workforce, and January, 1999 closure of the Eagar, Arizona sawmill, as well as the decimation of the ranching industry. The timber and ranching industries are the traditional economic base of Apache County.
Smaller schools in Eastern Arizona Counties are located in communities surrounded by public lands, making it too expensive for these schools to acquire needed land in areas of limited tax base. For instance, the Alpine school in Apache County is surrounded by forest lands, which drives the full cash value of the limited private lands in its school districts to an average of $24,000 dollars per acre. Assuming that a minunum of ten acres is needed for buildings, expansion, parking, and playground facilities, it could cost Alpine $240,000 just for needed land. In comparison, the entire 1998/99 maintenance, operations, and capital tax levy for Alpine is $324,000.
Fortunately, thanks to the diligent efforts of Congressman J.D. Hayworth, Alpine recently received a land conveyance to assist its efforts to upgrade. Unfortunately, other schools such as Vernon in Apache County continue to face high annual student costs, unsatisfactory land space, and unsafe conditions for students.(see footnote 2) This legislation would help schools such as Vernon to relocate away from high traffic areas, develop safe and adequate facilities, and ensure the school's future; it will also be very beneficial to the Round Valley School District in Apache County, which is bordered by the U.S. Forest.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Schools and other local government facilities located on leased public lands are also a serious concern for Eastern Arizona Counties. Navajo County, Arizona, for example, is faced with the possible expensive purchase of 640 acres of public lands that schools are located on. Greenlee County, Arizona has at least two schools (Blue and Eagle Creek) located on leased forest lands, with only 160 private parcels in their collective tax base.(see footnote 3) One of Gila County, Arizona's major schools is located in a County Supervisor's district that has less than 1 percent of private property within the Supervisor's district, with the rest being untaxable public lands.
Faced with these challenges, it is clear that passage of this legislation would help these Counties immensely in their efforts to ensure the stability of their schools, and create the ability for poor school districts to generate needed revenues from school owned lands.
Apache County has obligations to maintain over 930 miles of roads on our public lands and over 900 miles of roads on the Navajo Nation for school bus routes and emergency vehicle access. Hopefully, passage of this legislation may make it possible for local governments to receive assistance to maintain these roads.
In conclusion, as you deliberate on the passage of House Resolution 150, please keep in mind the economic and fiscal devastation facing rural Counties as a result of too many regulations, and an overwhelming volume of lawsuits related to the environment and endangered species. While we feel that this bill is critical for schools and local governments, it is our hope that you will also address in separate actions the more serious issues of regulation, litigation, and Endangered Species reform.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF ARTHUR N. LEE, COUNTY SUPERVISOR, APACHE COUNTY, ARIZONA
Thank you for this opportunity to testify. For the record, my name is Arthur N. Lee, County Supervisor from Apache County, Arizona.
On behalf of Apache County and the Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties for Stable Economic Growth, I come before you today in support of House Resolution 150. For several years now, our Counties' mountain community schools have suffered economic hardship. Dropping enrollments are common, as logging, ranching, and mining families are forced by regulations and court decisions to move out of the towns they grew up in. In Apache and Greenlee County alone, at least five school districts (Alpine, Blue, Eagle Creek, Vernon, and Round Valley) face this problem.
The result of losing these families is a drop in bonding capacity, school property tax revenues, and in-school student revenues. With this loss of funds and bonding ability, our mountain schools are in many cases unable to acquire property critical to the service of their students. This happened to the Alpine school, which is in my County Supervisors District. Fortunately, with the assistance of Congressman J. D. Hayworth, we were able to get a grant of land for them.
In the Round Valley area, we just lost the Eagar sawmill, the largest remaining sawmill in the Southwest. Due to the forced elimination of timber harvesting, they were forced to permanently close the mill and lay off the 70 remaining workers. When the mill ran at full capacity in 1989, it directly and indirectly employed almost 700 people, including mill workers, loggers, timber haulers, etc. While hope remains that good sense will return the harvesting of timber in time to save our forests from catastrophic fire and save our mill, it is equally important to save our cattle industry.
As a result of the loss of the timber and cattle industries, more families will move out of our school districts, which will force the schools to lay off teachers, cut critical programs, and cripple the quality of our children's
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCeducation.
Mr. Chairman, the problems I have described to you are happening to schools in many rural Arizona and New Mexico Counties, as a result of lawsuits and environmental regulations that continue to shut down our economic base industries, destroy our way of life, and ruin the education of our children. For example, the Blue and Eagle Creek schools in Greenlee County, Arizona are located on public forest lands. The loss of ranching and timber families has forced these schools to periodically close, and they live in constant fear that their schools' land leases will not be renewed. In Navajo County, Arizona, costs of regulations for schools on public lands drive the costs of education up at a time of increasing uncertainty. In Gila County, Arizona, only 3.8 percent of their total land base is private property, with some school districts located in areas with less than 1 percent private property. The ability of these schools to receive a grant of land would give them more security, and improve their financial situation.
The passage of this bill should also help many school districts lower their expenses by eliminating those schools' need to lease property, lower the cost of building expansion, and provide quality outdoor educational opportunities for our children. In addition, local governments can benefit from greater social stability, and expansion of essential community services.
Mr. Chairman, for the sake of our children, our families, and our schools, we urge that you pass House Resolution 150.
Thank you for your time.
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 1 TO 57 HERE
(Footnote 1 return)
Mandates come from several areas, including evolving health and safety rules, facilities standards, nutritional requirements, and student performance criteria
(Footnote 2 return)
Annual student costs in Vernon are approximately $894,000 dollars for 77 students.
(Footnote 3 return)
72 private parcels for Blue and 94 for Eagle Creek