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. 2485, A BILL TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE IN PLANNING AND CONSTRUCTING A REGIONAL HERITAGE CENTER IN CALAIS, MAINE.

MAY 11, 2000


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 2485, a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to provide assistance in planning and constructing a regional heritage center in Calais, Maine, in order to support visitor and interpretive services for Saint Croix Island International Historic Site (ISH), in preparation for the 400th anniversary of Saint Croix in 2004.

The Department of the Interior strongly supports enactment of this legislation, with an amendment to encourage participation of a larger partnership. This legislation will authorize the National Park Service to participate in a collaborative partnership to develop the Calais Center.

Calais, Maine, is located along the Saint Croix River, which is the international boundary between the United States and Canada. Saint Croix Island and Saint Croix Island International Historic Site, the only international historic site in the National Park System, are located eight miles down river from Calais. Saint Croix Island is the site of the first French attempt in 1604 to colonize the territory they called Acadia and is the location of one of the earliest European settlements in North America. The island lies west of the international border and can be seen from a National Park Service interpretive site (Red Beach) on the Maine shore of the Saint Croix River. The island can also be seen from a Parks Canada facility on the New Brunswick shore of the Saint Croix River.

Saint Croix Island ISH is significant to the people of the United States, Canada and France. The National Park Service will be a key player in commemorating the world-historical events which had their start at Saint Croix Island. We would also like to thank Senator Collins and Senator Snowe for the energy and insight they have brought to this issue in order for the Service to prepare for celebrations in 2004.

The National Park Service completed a general management plan (GMP) for Saint Croix Island IHS in 1998. The GMP recommends the best strategy to protect and interpret Saint Croix Island International Historic Site is to develop an interpretive trail and ranger station on the site’s mainland shore, Red Beach, Maine, and to assist in the development of a multi-agency visitor center in downtown Calais. The National Park Service is working with Federal, State and local partners on a strategy to interpret the heritage of the entire region. A goal is to incorporate the Saint Croix Island story into the themes of the region's cultural and natural history in both the United States and in Canada. In addition, a 1982 international memorandum of understanding between the Department of the Interior of the United States and the Department of Environment of Canada provides a mechanism for coordination with Canadian officials. Planning efforts to commemorate and interpret the international historic site, and specifically the 400th anniversary of the settlement in 2004, are ongoing. The timetable is extremely short for these projects to be accomplished in time for the anniversary celebrations.

The National Park Service has prepared a development support package for the Red Beach site for the construction of restrooms and parking and for installing interpretive wayside exhibits. We have also acquired key parcels of land and structures at the Red Beach site. It should be noted that visitation to Saint Croix Island will not be encouraged in order to protect the fragile lands and the significant archeological remains. A second development support package provides for the remaining development work recommended in the GMP. This work includes the National Park Service portion of the costs for a Calais Regional Heritage Center. National Park Service funds for this center would be subject to the availability of appropriations and NPS priorities. The total preliminary cost estimate for the center is $6.5 million with the NPS share being $2 million.

On the Canadian side of the Saint Croix River, Parks Canada has completed an extensive interpretive trail, exhibits, brochures and web pages with links to other French sites throughout eastern Canada. The Province of New Brunswick is developing a reconstructed settlement on the river shore directly opposite the island.

The National Park Service wishes to continue to cooperate with others in planning for a regional heritage center. The center would not be owned nor operated by the National Park Service, but managed by a consortium of partners. Although we do not advocate a National Park Service presence in Calais, we believe a partnership among Federal, state and local organizations would be the most appropriate and cost-effective. The National Park Service generally opposes the use of limited funds for non-Federal facilities, but in this case the facility can serve park purposes and therefore may be appropriate for funding, subject to NPS ranking of priorities. This legislation would authorize the necessary appropriations to fund very limited Park Service operational costs in Calais.

S. 2485 encourages collaborative planning, construction and operation of the center, but we believe an amendment would better encourage all partners to participate. Along with State and local agencies and nonprofit organizations, it is anticipated that the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be partners with the National Park Service in this endeavor. We recommend that Section 4(b) be amended to allow the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements with these two Federal agencies also.

We are very supportive of this legislation if modified in accordance with the amendment attached to this testimony. This concludes my prepared testimony. I would be happy to answer any questions that you or members of the subcommittee may have.

Our proposed amendment is as follows:

On page 4, line 15, strike "with State and local agencies" and insert "with other Federal agencies, State and local agencies".