STATEMENT OF DR. MICHAEL SOUKUP, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, NATURAL RESOURCE STEWARDSHIP AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, RECREATION, AND PUBLIC LANDS, OF THE HOUSE RESOURCES COMMITTEE, CONCERNING H. R. 2234, TO REVISE THE BOUNDARY OF THE TUMACACORI NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK IN THE STATE OF ARIZONA.

 

November 13, 2001

 


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on H. R. 2234.  This bill would revise the boundary of Tumacacori National Historical Park in the State of Arizona.  We extend our thanks and appreciation to Congressman Pastor for his interest in the resources and stories preserved and told at Tumacacori National Historical Park (NHP).

 

The Department supports H. R. 2234.  The legislation would allow the park to fulfill the original purposes for which it was established, create more opportunities to expand educational and recreational partnerships within the new boundary and beyond, and has received the support of the surrounding community.  Expanding the boundary of Tumacacori NHP would fulfill one of the goals identified in the park's approved General Management Plan, and the owners of the lands proposed for addition have expressed a willingness to sell. 

 

H. R. 2234 would amend Public Law 101-344, the Act authorizing the establishment of Tumacacori National Historical Park, and expand the boundary of the park by adding two separate parcels, which are adjacent to the original Tumacacori unit of the park and total approximately 310 acres.  The legislation also defines the purpose for adding these lands.

 

Tumacacori National Historical Park is a 45-acre unit of the National Park System because the mission is an outstanding example of 18th century Spanish Colonial architecture and served as the source and center of a community and a way of life that survived for centuries in a harsh and demanding environment.  To tell that story means more than protecting a building.  It means protecting the resources that nourished and maintained it - its orchards, crops, and fields.  The proposed additions to the boundary contain these resources.

 

Tumacacori is one of a chain of missions established by the Spanish in the Pimería Alta (land of the Upper Pima Indians) from Sonora, Mexico to San Xavier del Bac near Tucson.  Father Kino established Mission San Cayetano de Tumacacori approximately forty miles south of present day Tucson in 1691.  At its height, the mission land grant included nearly 6,000 acres. 

 

Theodore Roosevelt set aside 9 acres immediately around the church as Tumacacori National Monument in 1908.  The boundary of the monument was revised with the addition of 6 acres in 1978.  In 1990 the missions of Guevavi (8 acres) and Calabazas (22 acres), to the south along the Santa Cruz River, were added and the park redesignated a National Historical Park.

 

The 18th and 19th century Tumacacori Mission encompassed not only a church and its associated compound, but also homes for the native people.  The mission supported itself by what it could grow and graze on its lands along the Santa Cruz River.  Vegetables and fruits grew in a large (5 acre) walled orchard and garden irrigated by the acequia (irrigation ditch).  Eventually homesteaders settled mission lands, and by the time Tumacacori National Monument was set aside all of the former mission lands were in private ownership.  Today the mission stands divorced from its land and people.  One quarter of the historic orchard and its still visible wall remains.  The majority of the acequia, mission farmland and a section of the Santa Cruz River all lie on adjacent private land.

 

The park’s General Management Plan (1996) identified the need to acquire additional lands to obtain the rest of the mission orchard.  Acquisition of the entire historic remains of the orchard, former mission farmlands and the acequia would allow the park to recreate a 19th century cultural landscape.  Future visitors would understand that the mission was not just a church but a complete self-sustaining community.  The nearby Santa Cruz River, a desert riparian area, is a vital educational tool to understand how the native and mission communities were able to develop and thrive in the desert.   In addition, expansion of the park boundary would allow the National Park Service to enhance the recreational experience of visitors along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail between Tubac and Tumacacori as well as partner with communities all along the Santa Cruz River to further develop the recreational and educational values of the trail.

 

The two parcels of private land proposed to be included in the Tumacacori NHP boundary are a 90-acre parcel to the south and east and a 220-acre parcel to the north and east.  The owners have expressed their interest in selling to the National Park Service.  Acquisition costs for the two parcels are estimated at $2,000,000 to $2,500,000, although actual costs would not be known until appraisals on the land are completed.  A non-profit group may be willing to purchase the properties and hold them for a short period of time until the National Park Service is able to designate land acquisition funding.

 

Since the National Park Service intends to return the proposed additional lands to a 19th century cultural landscape there will be little additional park operational funding needed.  Park staff would be able to provide a basic level of resource protection to lands that are acquired through existing financial resources.  In the future, funding will be needed to develop visitor use trails as well as to rehabilitate and replant the mission orchard as called for in the General Management Plan.  No other visitor facilities will be built in the new areas.  An additional 1.5 FTE would be needed in personnel for the increased maintenance responsibilities.  Costs to accomplish these projects would require one-time funding of approximately $250,000 for visitor trail, waysides and bridge construction and $100,000 to reconstruct and replant the orchard.  A $78,000 base increase for maintenance staff would be needed.

 

H. R. 2234 has generated a cross-section of support.  The county supervisor on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors whose district includes the park has expressed support.  Local community groups that have expressed support for the legislation include the Friends of the Santa Cruz River, the Anza Trail Coalition and the Tubac Historical Society.

 

We have discovered that there is a discrepancy between the name and number of the map showing this proposed boundary expansion and the map reference in the bill.  In order to make the bill language consistent with the map we suggest that the map title on page 3, line 9 and 10 be changed to read “Tumacacori National Historical Park, Arizona Proposed Boundary Revision 2001” and the map number on page 3, line 11 be changed to read “310/80,044”.

 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.