CELEBRATING AMERICA'S HERITAGE ACT -- (House of Representatives - October 24, 2007)
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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1483, which includes legislation to extend the authorization of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route. I would first like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the New Jersey delegation for their continued support of this extension. I would also like to thank Chairman RAHALL, Ranking Member YOUNG and their staff for their support and guidance.
Established by Congress in 1988, the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail incorporates the very best of what the great State of New Jersey has to offer to the rest of the Nation. The Trail unifies New Jersey's many scenic points of interest. These points of interest include a wealth of environmental, historic, maritime and recreational sights found along New Jersey's coastline, stretching 300 miles from Perth Amboy in the north, Cape May in the extreme southern tip of the State and Deepwater to the west.
The Trail's area includes three National Wildlife Refuges, four tributaries of a Wild and Scenic River system, a Civil War fort and National cemetery, several lighthouses, historic homes, and other sites tied to southern New Jersey's maritime history. Through a network of themes and destinations, the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail connects people with places of historic, recreational, environmental and maritime interest.
One exciting aspect of the Trail is its focus on maritime history. There is a rich story to be told about the industries once sustained by the Delaware Bay, such as whaling, shipbuilding, crabbing and the harvesting of oysters. While we often define our Nation's history through military or political milestones, the Trail will serve to remind visitors that maritime-dependent commerce was a major factor in the growth of the United States.
``Eco-tourism'' along the Trail has proven to be a huge success. There is an abundant variety of natural habitats and species to be found on the Trail. Whale and dolphin watching have become extremely popular, and bird lovers from throughout the country, and in fact around the world, are realizing what Southern New Jersey residents have known all along: our region is unmatched for observing migratory birds, ospreys and bald eagles.
The Trail has also helped to foster important partnerships between the Federal government and individuals, groups, corporations, State and local governments. Since the Trail began, these partnerships have resulted in additional funding amounting to almost double the investment of the Federal government.
Legislation reauthorizing the Trail was included in S. 203, the National Heritage Areas Act of 2006, which the President signed into law in October of 2006. S. 203 requires a strategic plan for the Trail to be prepared ``Not later than 3 years after the date on which funds are made available.'' Unfortunately, under S. 203, the Trail is only reauthorized through September 30, 2007.
The language pertaining to the Trail included in H.R. 1483 has the support of the entire New Jersey Congressional delegation. It would extend the authorization of the Coastal Heritage Trail Route in New Jersey until September 30, 2011. This would allow for adequate time to complete the required strategic plan, which will explore opportunities to increase participation by private and public interests, as well as organizational options for sustaining the Trail. S. 1039, a bill containing language very similar to the Trail language in H.R. 1483, was introduced in the Senate in March.
Since its inception, the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail has not only helped New Jersey residents develop pride, awareness, experience with, and understanding of our coastal resources and their history, it has encouraged visitors to explore this area, bringing with them much needed tourism dollars. The extension of the authorization contained in H.R. 1483 will allow the Trail to continue and flourish. I urge my colleagues in the House to support this legislation.
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