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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Federal Lands Subcommittee Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3565, H.R. 3839, H.R. 4233, and H.R. 5132

May 24, 2016

Congressman McClintock is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Lands . The subcommittee held a legislative hearing on May 24th, 2016. Congressman McClintock delivered the following opening statement:

Chairman’s Opening Statement
House Committee on Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Federal Lands
May 24, 2016

Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3480, H.R. 4202, H.R. 4789, and H.R. 5244

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands meets to consider four bills that seek either to improve visitor amenities or protect grounds of significance to the history of our exceptional republic.

Congressman John Katko of New York brings us H.R. 4202, which authorizes the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study of Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York to evaluate the site’s national significance and determine the suitability of its designation as a unit of the National Park System.  

Fort Ontario was first established in 1755 to defend Americans during the French and Indian Wars – really the first time our nation dealt with organized terrorism.  It played a role in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and served our country as hospital and training facilities and as a refugee center in the First and Second World Wars.  In 1946, after nearly 200 years of active military use, Fort Ontario was transferred to the State of New York, that has operated and maintained it ever since.

Dating back even farther is Fort Frederica, established by James Oglethorpe in 1736 to protect the southern boundary of the colony of Georgia from the Spanish – a reminder of the commitment of earlier generations to defend our Southern border.  Spanish incursions were turned back in the Battle of Bloody Marsh in 1742, in which the Fort’s garrison delivered a decisive victory.   By 1742, the Fort’s success made it obsolete and it was abandoned until 1936, when Franklin Roosevelt preserved the archeological remains through the Antiquities Act. 

H.R. 3480, authored by Congressman Buddy Carter, would authorize the National Park Service to acquire up to 275 acres for inclusion in the boundary of Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island, Georgia.  In keeping with our pledge to restore the Federal Government as a good neighbor to the surrounding communities, this bill comes to us with the unanimous support of the local governments and civic associations in the vicinity.

The next measure involves the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial on Arlington Ridge.  It includes the iconic image of U.S. Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.  The law establishing the memorial forbids any structures in proximity to the memorial which creates a fairly straight-forward mathematical problem.  One million visitors a year.  Zero restrooms.  Enough said.

Philanthropist David Rubenstein, who has become the Guardian Angel of our national monuments, has stepped forward with $5 million for repairs and rehabilitation of the memorial, and Congressman Don Beyer has stepped forward with this bill to amend the original law and allow a portion of these funds to relieve us of this problem.

Finally, Congressman Steve Knight of California brings us H.R. 5244, which would authorize the creation of a memorial in honor of those who lost their lives in the catastrophic collapse of the Saint Francis Dam in Los Angeles County in 1928.  That disaster made dam safety the sine qua non of dam construction and contributed to the engineering safety that is central to our modern dams. 

This memorial, in the Los Padres National Forest, would be created entirely through private donations.  The bill would create a 440 acre national monument encompassing the area devastated in the resulting flood.  In keeping with our determination to restore public access to the public lands, it would protect existing road access and grazing permits that are already allowed within the proposed monument and would protect an area that has experienced significant theft and vandalism in recent years. Congressman Knight has worked with local officials and others in the community in developing this bill.

In considering these bills, we need to be mindful of the enormous maintenance backlog that now confronts the National Park Service, and to minimize new commitments until that backlog is addressed.

With that, I look forward to hearing from the members of Congress who have joined us to testify on their legislation, as well as our other witnesses. I now recognize the ranking member for her statement.

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