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Public Statements

Department of The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2005

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Department of The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - June 17, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 674 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 4568.

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Chairman, this bill is important for everyone, because all Americans have a stake in the work of the agencies that if funds. But it is especially important for Coloradans and the residents of the other Western States that have large Native American populations and that are so immediately and directly affected by the management of the Federal lands.

So, I would like to be able to support the bill-but, regretfully, the bill falls too far short of what is needed for me to be able to do so. My opposition to the bill does not reflect any lack of respect of Chairman TAYLOR or for our colleague from Washington, Mr. DICKS, the distinguished and able ranking member of the subcommittee. I think that in general they have done the best they could with the very limited allocation of funds that was made available to them.

In particular, I think they should be commended for their efforts to provide funds for reducing the hazardous fuels that have built up in our forests and for responding to wildfires that threaten so many western communities. However, in many other areas the bill falls far short of what I think should be acceptable. It does not provide enough for the essential operations of the National Park System or the other parts of the Federal lands that provide recreational opportunities for so many people, as well as supplying the fresh water and sound habitats that are essential for fish and wildlife.

And it conspicuously fails to make the necessary investments, including land acquisitions and other steps, needed to respond to the increased stress on open spaces and natural resources from the rapid and ongoing population growth in Colorado and other States. This failure breaks the promises of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act and flies in the face of the more recent agreement between the appropriations committee and the large majority that voted for the Conservation and Reinvestment Act sponsored by our colleague from Alaska, Mr. YOUNG. And, even worse, it also breaks faith with the future and with the future generations that would be the beneficiaries of those investments.

For example, we should be providing funds to complete the acquisition of lands in the Beaver Brook watershed that the city of Golden, Colorado, has agreed to sell for inclusion in the National Forest System. We also should provide funds to complete the acquisition of the lands that are to become part of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and to constitute the new Baca National Wildlife Refuge, as well as to complete other needed acquisitions in other parts of Colorado. But, instead, the bill includes no funds at all for these or any other acquisition projects-not only in Colorado but anywhere else. This is not acceptable.

Mr. Chairman, I recognize that today is not the end of the story. The Senate still has to act on this appropriations bill, and I expect that a revised version of the legislation will come before the House at a later date. My hope is that the result of that progress will be a bill that is sufficiently improved that it will deserve the support of the entire body. For the time being, however, I cannot support this bill and will vote against it.

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