As Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, I have the privilege to advocate for several local initiatives and bills that are important to Central Washington. I am working to advance several proposals that allow for greater access to public lands, protect family-owned cabins in our National Forests, preserve local historical sites, and protect endangered salmon and other fish species in the Columbia River from predatory sea lions. Here are some of the bills I've introduced this year on behalf of Central Washington:
Last month, I was pleased to reintroduce three bills addressing public access to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain and the North Cascades National Park near Stehekin, and increasing fishing opportunities in the North Cascades National Park Complex. These three bills are important to Washington state because they provide greater recreational access for the public, tourism, and fishing opportunities. All three of my bills passed the House of Representatives with broad, bipartisan support last Congress and I'm hopeful they will pass again with the same level of support.
In March, the Natural Resources Committee approved, by voice vote, H.R. 1159, "The Cabin Fee Act of 2013," which would establish a predictable and affordable tiered fee structure for families who own cabins in our National Forests. Cabin owners in Central Washington and throughout the country have received notice that their fees could increase by as much as 1,000 percent because of a faulty appraisal system. Unable to afford the arbitrary and skyrocketing fees, cabin owners are now faced with the choice of selling their cabins or abandoning and tearing them down. My bill, which passed the House with bipartisan support last Congress, would eliminate the time-consuming appraisal process, and reduce the overhead costs for family-owned cabins. "The Cabin Fee Act of 2013" now goes to the full House for consideration.
Another bipartisan bill I introduced is H.R. 1208, the "Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act." This bill would establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that includes facilities at Hanford, Washington, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico and preserves these historic sites as national parks, ensuring public access for future generations. A legislative hearing was held on this bill last week, and I will continue working with Representatives and Senators from both parties to pass this legislation and get it signed into law.
Finally, I reintroduced bipartisan legislation last month aimed at protecting endangered Columbia River salmon and other fish species from California and Steller sea lions that prey on thousands of these endangered fish each year. Specifically, H.R. 1308, the "Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act," would allow states and tribes to obtain permits for lethal removal of the most aggressive sea lions in order to help protect endangered salmon as they return to spawn.
As Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, I will continue to see that issues important to our local communities are made a priority.