STATEMENT OF DENIS P. GALVIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND RECREATION CONCERNING S. 972 AND H.R. 1615, BILLS TO AMEND THE WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS ACT TO EXTEND THE DESIGNATION OF THE LAMPREY RIVER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AS A RECREATIONAL RIVER TO INCLUDE AN ADDITIONAL RIVER SEGMENT.

MARCH 8, 2000

 


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear today before the subcommittee to present the Department of the Interior’s position on S. 972 and H.R. 1615. Each of these bills would add a 12-mile segment of the Lamprey River in the Town of Epping, New Hampshire, to the portion of that river already designated as a recreational river under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. S. 972 would also move to the text of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act itself the specific management prescriptions that were enacted as freestanding provisions of the legislation that originally designated the Lamprey River.

The Department supports the purpose behind both bills; however, because of the difference in the way S. 972 is drafted that we consider important, the Department supports enactment of H.R. 1615.

In 1991 the National Park Service, through Public Law 102-214, was directed to undertake a Wild and Scenic River study of a portion of New Hampshire’s Lamprey River. In June of 1995, the National Park Service issued its findings in a draft study report. The National Park Service found the 23.5-mile segment of the Lamprey River, running from the Bunker Pond Dam in West Epping to the confluence of the Lamprey and Piscassic Rivers in the vicinity of the Newmarket-Durham town line, to be eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Although 23.5 miles of the Lamprey River were found eligible for inclusion in the national system, there was then local support for designation of only the 11.5 miles running from the southern Lee Town line to the confluence with the Piscassic River. Due to the lack of local support for designation of the Epping Town segment, the National Park Service recommended that only the 11.5-mile segment of the Lamprey in Lee, Durham and Newmarket Towns be designated as a component of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

As part of the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996, that 11.5-mile segment of the Lamprey River was designated as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. That act also recommended that the National Park Service continue to offer assistance to the Town of Epping regarding the potential future addition of the 12-mile eligible segment now contemplated for designation.

On March 16, 1999, acting upon the recommendation of the Epping Board of Selectmen, the citizens of Epping voted overwhelmingly at their annual Town Meeting to seek designation of their 12-mile segment of the Lamprey and to officially join with their downstream communities in Wild and Scenic designation. This vote of support is a testimony to the success of the Wild and Scenic River designation in the communities of Newmarket, Durham, and Lee. During Epping’s deliberations, officials from Lee, Durham and Newmarket strongly endorsed the Wild and Scenic River designation and the program they are involved in to protect the Lamprey River. This support is based on the solid partnership that the designation has forged among local, state, and federal groups -- a partnership that is already yielding important successes for the long-term protection and use of the Lamprey River.

Both S. 972 and H.R. 1615 would complete the designation of the 23.5-mile Lamprey River segment found eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System as presented in the National Park Service’s draft study report of June 1995. The portion of the Lamprey through Epping represents some of the wildest and most beautiful stretches of the entire Lamprey. It is a sanctuary for many species of wildlife and a special place for quiet contemplation and enjoyment. The designation of this 12-mile segment, which now has strong local support, would more than double the mileage of the Lamprey included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and is an important step toward preserving this special resource.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provides management rules for rivers that are to be units of the National Park System or managed as part of a national park or national forest. When a river that is designated as part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System is to be managed differently than the management outlined in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, those particular management prescriptions have consistently been adopted as free-standing provisions of the designation legislation. This has been done so as to keep the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act focused on designations and not the exceptions to the law. Separate legislation is effective in ensuring that the river is managed under an exception to the usual management prescriptions. Keeping the special management provisions separate also prevents confusion between generally appropriate management requirements that are contained in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and those that are provided in the independent legislation.

As I stated previously, the Department supports enactment of H.R. 1615 instead of S. 972. S. 972 would amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act so that it includes the management prescriptions for the Lamprey Wild and Scenic River. These management prescriptions are specific to the Lamprey River and should be retained in the legislation that is specific to the Lamprey. The language of H.R. 1615 would accomplish this by only amending the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to include the additional river mileage to be added to the Lamprey Wild and Scenic River designation. H.R. 1615 leaves intact the Lamprey’s unique management prescriptions enacted in Public Law 104-333, Division I, Section 405 (b), keeping the specific management for the Lamprey independent from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Thus we recommend that the Committee act on H.R. 1615.

This completes my testimony. I will be happy to answer questions of the committee regarding this legislation.