STATEMENT OF DENIS P. GALVIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK  SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES CONCERNING H.R. 601, TO REDESIGNATE CERTAIN LANDS WITHIN CRATERS OF THE MOON NATIONAL MONUMENT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

 

JULY 31, 2001

   


Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 601, a bill to redesignate certain lands within Craters of the Moon National Monument.

 

The Department supports H.R. 601. The House-passed bill would redesignate the NPS portion of the monument expansion as a national preserve and authorize the Secretary to permit hunting on those lands. The effect, therefore, would be to restore hunting to lands on which it had been allowed when they were under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. Designation as a national preserve is appropriate in this case because the category was established for units of the National Park System that are created primarily for the protection of certain resources, while activities such as hunting may still be allowed if they do not jeopardize the natural values.

 

Craters of the Moon National Monument was established by Proclamation of President Calvin Coolidge in 1924 for the purpose of protecting the unusual landscape of the Craters of the Moon lava field. This unusual landscape was thought to resemble the surface of the Moon and the Proclamation stated that the area "contains many curious and unusual phenomena of great educational value and has a weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself." Between 1924 and 1962, the monument was expanded and boundary adjustments were made through four presidential proclamations. In 1996, a minor boundary adjustment was made by section 205 of the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 (110 Stat. 4093; Public Law 104-333). On November 9, 2000, Presidential Clinton's proclamation expanded the 53,440-acre monument by adding approximately 661,287 acres of federal lands.

 

The expanded monument includes almost all the features of basaltic volcanism, including the craters, cones, lava flows, caves, and fissures of the 65-mile long Great Rift, a geological feature that is comparable to the great rift zones of Iceland and Hawaii. It comprises the most diverse and geologically recent part of the lava terrain that covers the southern Snake River Plain, a broad lava plain made up of innumerable basalt lava flows that erupted during the past 5 million years.

 

Prior to the recent proclamation, Craters of the Moon National Monument was managed solely by the National Park Service. The expansion area of the monument, however, consists of lands that had been administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The proclamation gives both agencies responsibilities for administering the monument cooperatively. The National Park Service has the primary management responsibility for the old monument, plus the approximately 400,000-acre portion of the expansion area that consists of exposed lava flows. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for administering the remaining portion of the monument.

 

The proclamation specified that the NPS portion of the monument expansion is to be managed under the same laws and regulations that applied to the original monument. Since hunting has not been authorized in the original Craters of the Moon National Monument, the effect of the proclamation was to prohibit hunting in the NPS portion of the monument expansion. However, the Department supports a clarification of this language to allow the continued use of the lands in the expanded monument area for hunting. Hunting in the portion of the monument administered by the Bureau of Land Management is not affected.

 

Furthermore, although the proclamation specifies that the National Park Service has jurisdiction over the exposed lava flows, the on-the-ground reality is that there is not a precise delineation between areas of vegetation and areas of bare rock, making it difficult in many cases to determine the exact location of the boundary. For the average visitor or hunter, it would be difficult, if not impossible to distinguish whether they were on BLM lands or NPS lands, at least in the vicinity of the jurisdictional boundaries.

 

The Department also recognizes that legislation to provide the authority for hunting within the NPS-managed portion of the monument expansion would give the Superintendent the ability to work cooperatively with the State of Idaho on issues concerning adjacent landowners. For example, hunting could be used as a tool in mitigating agricultural depredation caused by elk grazing on alfalfa crops on privately owned lands outside the monument.

 

While the Department supports legislation to allow continued hunting in the NPS portion of the Craters of the Moon expansion area, this does not include support for opening to hunting the portion of the monument that existed prior to the proclamation of November 9, 2000. That portion of the national monument has always been, and should continue to be closed to hunting.

In addition, I would like to clarify that the Department's position on this specific issue does not indicate support for opening other areas of the National Park System to hunting.

 

This concludes my testimony on H.R. 601. I would be glad to answer any questions you may have.