April 11, 2013

Senate subcommittee sets hearing
on bill to overturn the ORV plan


A U.S. Senate’s subcommittee has set a hearing on a bill that would overturn the National Park Service’s off-road vehicle management plan for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which became effective in February 2012.

The hearing will be before the National Parks Subcommittee of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, April 23, at 2:30 p.m. in the Senate Dirksen Building.

At the meeting, the subcommittee will hear testimony on the Cape Hatteras bill and 12 other pieces of legislation dealing with Park Service matters.

Senate Bill 486 was introduced by U.S. Senator Richard Burr, R-N.C., along with Senator Kay Hagan, D-N.C., on March 7.

The bill reintroduced the Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act, a bill that would reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore and set aside current mandates and requirements that prevent off-road vehicle and citizen access to a significant portion of the seashore.
If the bill is enacted, the National Park Service’s Interim Management Strategy will go into effect immediately and end upon the National Park Service establishing a long-term off-road vehicle management plan for the seashore.

An identical bill was introduced last year in the Senate by Burr and Hagan.  It had a hearing before the full Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but the legislation died there.  The committee never “marked up” the bill and sent it to the full Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, for a vote.

Last year, an identical bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C, was voted favorably out of committee and sent to the floor of the House for a vote, along with several other Park Service-related pieces of legislation. It passed the House last summer, largely along partisan lines with Republicans for and Democrats against.

Jones also reintroduced his bill this year and it had a committee hearing last month.  The committee has not taken any action on the legislation.

The Senate subcommittee has not announced who the witnesses to give testimony at the hearing will be.

However, David Scarborough, a board member of the Outer Banks Preservation Association, which favors the bill, said he was told that only administration witnesses would be called to confirm the government’s position on the bills. The committee would then adopt other testimony from earlier hearings.

He said he understood all of the bills up at the hearing were either “controversial” or not marked up by the full committee last year and sent to the Senate Floor.

The other bills scheduled for the hearing are:
  • S. 59, to designate a Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial at the March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California;
  • S. 155, to designate a mountain in the State of Alaska as Denali;
  • S. 156, to allow for the harvest of gull eggs by the Huna Tlingit people within Glacier Bay National Park in the State of Alaska;
  • S. 219, to establish the Susquehanna Gateway National Heritage Area in the State of Pennsylvania, and for other purposes;             
  • S. 225, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of alternatives for commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early years of the National Parks, and for other purposes;
  • S. 228,   to establish the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area, California;
  • S. 285, to designate the Valles Caldera National Preserve as a unit of the National Park System, and for other purposes;
  • S. 305, to authorize the acquisition of core battlefield land at Champion Hill, Port Gibson, and Raymond for addition to Vicksburg National Military Park;
  • S. 349,   to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate a segment of the Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck Rivers in the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island for study for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and for other purposes;
  • S. 371,   to establish the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, to dedicate the Park to John H. Chafee, and for other purposes;
  • S. 476, to amend the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Development Act to extend to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Commission;
  • S. 507,   to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington, and for other purposes, and;
  • S. 615,   to establish Coltsville National Historical Park in the State of Connecticut, and for other purposes.
The hearing will be webcast live on the committee's website, http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/4/national-parks-subcommittee-hearing-to-consider, and an archived video will be available shortly after the hearing is complete. Witness testimony will be available on the website at the start of the hearing.
The members of the Subcommittee on National Parks are:

  • Senator Mark Udall (Chairman)
  • Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D, LA)
  • Senator Bernard Sanders (I) (D, VT)
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D, MI)
  • Senator Christopher A. Coons (D, DE)
  • Senator Brian Schatz (D, HI)
  • Senator Martin Heinrich (D, NM)
  • Senator Rob Portman (R, OH)
  • Senator John Barrasso (R, WY)
  • Senator Mike Lee (R, UT)
  • Senator Lamar Alexander (R, TN)
  • Senator John Hoeven (R, ND)

Burr and Hagan reintroduce bill to overturn ORV plan in Senate
Jones reintroduces bill to overturn both Park Service final rule on ORVs
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