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Hearing of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee - H.R. 3641, H.R. 3894, H.R. 4606, H.R. 5544 and H.R. 5791


Location: Washington, DC

We are pleased that the sponsors oftoday's bills have agreed to appear before us today.

Mr. Rehberg will testify on his bill to authorize the issuance of right-of-way pennits for natural gas pipelines in Glacier National Park.

Mr. Cravaack will testify on his bill to authorize an exchange ofland between the National Forest System the State of Minnesota.

Mr. Flake will testify on his bill to provide access to Wildemess Areas for the restoration of water sources during a state of emergency.

Mr. FaIT will testify on his bill to establish Pinnacles National Park in the State of Califomia as a unit of the National Park System.

Mr. Jackson will testify on HR 3894 to authorize a resource study ofthe Pullman Historic Site in Chicago.

I am especially eager to hear more about Mr.Cravaack's bill because I have a keen interest III finding a way to allow communities with federal land to provide for the education of their children.

I also want to comment on Mr. Flake's bill that will provide reasonable and necessary access to Wildemess Areas for the restoration of water sources, supplies, or infrastructure during a state of emergency declared by the Govemor of a State.

That this bill is needed shows that some of this country's wildemess areas were designated without adequate foresight and as a result communities are denied the necessary flexibility to respond to emergency conditions. This bill is one remedy for when wildemess designations infringe upon a city's water source infrastructure, but it makes me wonder why this pipeline was included in this wildemess area in the first place. A pipeline doesn't fit the definition of wildemess.

I know some feel that wilderness designations can only work one way, but I think we might also be able to resolve the issue by removing this pipeline area from the wilderness boundary.

I commend my colleague, however, for recognizing that what is happening to Tombstone, can happen elsewhere and drafting his bill so it would apply to other wilderness areas. Sadly, this is only one example of the rigidity that prevents a community from addressing emergency situations in wilderness areas.

There are too many examples of situations where fires, hazardous fuels, invasive species and other natural or man-made disasters cmmot be addressed in the expedited and efficient manner necessary.

Instead of protecting the area, federal policies all too often lead to significant destmction of wilderness acreage, loss of wildlife, of resources, of recreational opportunities and robs the people who live there of their ability to provide for their families.

Too often, federal policies compound the problem with no public benefit. I know the gentleman from Arizona and the citizens of Tombstone are as frustrated with the heavy hand of Washington and the dilatory, bureaucratic and dysfunctional processes that block them from timely solutions they could otherwise ably achieve on their own.

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