STATEMENT OF DENIS P. GALVIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND RECREATION, OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, U.S. SENATE, CONCERNING S. 1670, A BILL TO REVISE THE BOUNDARY OF FORT MATANZAS NATIONAL MONUMENT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

MAY 11, 2000

 


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interiorís views on S. 1670, a bill to revise the boundary of Fort Matanzas National Monument, and for other purposes.

The Department strongly supports S. 1670, which involves no cost and corrects long-standing technical problems with the parkís boundary. This bill is similar to a proposal the Administration sent to Congress on March 3, 1999. This bill is drafted differently. However, its effect would be the same.

The bill would resolve long-standing boundary and acquisition issues involving three tracts of land, totaling approximately 70 acres. This action is consistent with the 1996 Statement for Management, which stems from the monumentís 1982 General Management Plan.

 

In 1963 and 1965, the Johnson family donated to the United States two tracts of land adjacent to monument grounds. Although this land was donated to the United States, no legislative authority existed then, or now exists, to make these tracts part of Fort Matanzas National Monument. No attempt at the time nor since then has been made to include these beachfront tracts within the monumentís boundary.

A third tract was originally intended for donation to the United States, but was erroneously omitted from the legal description of a larger parcel of donated land. Although the United States does not hold title to this tract, the St. Johns County tax assessor regards it as Federal property. Again, no authority existed nor now exists to include it within the boundary of the monument. The National Park Service will seek to clear title once it is included within the monumentís boundary. To the best of our knowledge, this bill would not adversely affect any private landowners.

The Presidential Proclamation of October 15, 1924, established the Fort Matanzas National Monument in St. Johns County, Florida. The purpose of the monument is to preserve the rehabilitated Spanish fortification named Fort Matanzas, and to interpret for the visiting public the architectural, political, military, and social history of the fortification.

The inclusion of these three tracts within the boundary of Fort Matanzas National Monument would ensure that the National Park Service could legally protect the resources on the tracts and ensure visitor safety.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to respond to questions from you or other committee members.