STATEMENT OF JEFFREY K. TAYLOR, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE AND CONGRESSIONAL AFFAIRS, 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. 3786, TO REVISE THE BOUNDARY OF THE GLEN CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA IN THE STATES OF UTAH AND ARIZONA.
September 19, 2002
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on H.R. 3786. This bill would revise the boundary of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in the States of Utah and Arizona.
The Department supports H.R. 3786. The revision of the boundary would not contribute to the National Park Service (“Service”) maintenance backlog because the exchange would not result in any additional facilities, increased operating costs, or additional staffing. The current owner of the private property to be exchanged initiated this proposal and although the Service has not yet appraised the parcels involved, the owner’s appraisal indicates that the Service will receive lands with a higher value than those the Service would exchange. The owner has indicated, however, that no cash payment to equalize values would be required, which should remove the need for any land acquisition funds.
H.R. 3786 would amend Public Law 92-593 and give the Secretary of the Interior the authority, through an exchange, to change the boundary of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (“Park”) by adding 152 acres and deleting 370 acres in Kane County, Utah. The bill would also revise the authorized acreage of the park from 1,236,880 acres to 1,256,000 acres. This change would correct the total acreage within the park boundary that was incorrectly identified in the park’s enabling legislation. Correction of the authorized acreage ceiling also would not add any new facilities, increase operating costs, or require additional staffing.
The 152 acres that the Service would acquire are located east of Highway 89, approximately 5 miles south of Big Water, Utah and are contiguous to the existing park boundary. The 370 acres that the Service would exchange are located west of Highway 89 and are adjacent to privately owned lands. Although within the boundary of the recreation area, the 370 acres are physically and visually isolated from the rest of the recreation area by topographic features.
The owner of the private land has had an appraisal completed on the lands that are proposed for exchange. If this legislation were enacted, the Service would conduct its own appraisal on the two parcels. However, the owner’s appraisal determined that the 152-acre parcel ($5,500 per acre for a total appraised value of $836,000), which the Service would receive, was worth approximately seven times more per acre than the 370-acre parcel ($750 per acre for a total appraised value of $277,500) the Service would exchange.
H.R. 3786 would also correct the acreage ceiling error stated in Public Law 92-593, the 1972 enabling legislation for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Public Law 92-593 incorrectly estimated Glen Canyon National Recreation Area’s acreage within the boundary to be 1,236,880 acres. Using the same boundary identified on the map referenced in the 1972 enabling legislation, application of modern map reading and geographic information system technologies have determined that an acreage of 1,256,000 acres more accurately reflects the amount of land within the 1972 boundary.
H.R. 3786 enjoys a broad cross section of support. The nearest communities to the lands proposed for exchange, Big Water, Utah and Page, Arizona, recognize the importance of protecting the National Recreation Area. Also, this exchange would provide an opportunity for private development at one of the main access points to lands held by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). Such private development could enhance the 40,000 acres held by SITLA and is supported by the State of Utah and Kane County, Utah.
In previous testimony before the House Subcommittee, we recommended two changes - to correctly identify and date the map, as well as allow the National Park Service to enter into agreement with the landowner regarding how the exchanged lands will be managed. Those changes have been incorporated into the bill before you now.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.