STATEMENT BY D. THOMAS ROSS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, RECREATION AND CONSERVATION, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND RECREATION, CONCERNING S. 634, TO AMEND THE NATIONAL TRAILS SYSTEM ACT TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO CARRY OUT A STUDY ON THE FEASIBIITY OF DESIGNATING THE TRAIL OF THE ANCIENTS AS A NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL


May 6, 2003



Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 634, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the Trail of the Ancients, along various scenic byways in the Four Corners area.

The Department does not support S. 634. The Trail of the Ancients appears to be a set of modern scenic byway and highway tour routes. The scenic byway is approximately 710 miles long and extends through the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, known as the Four Corners Area. S. 634 would authorize a feasibility study to determine if the Trails of the Ancients meets the criteria to be designated as a national historic trail in the National Trail System. One of the criteria for designation as a national historic trail is that a trail ". . . must be a trail or route established by historic use and must be historically significant as a result of that use." The roads proposed for this trail are highways built by the States to connect the various sites, which would seem to preclude their designation as a national historic trail.

Additionally, The National Park Service is in various stages of progress with 37 studies previously authorized by Congress. Eight of those studies involve potential additions to the National Trails System. Our highest priority is to complete the studies previously authorized by Congress, and to only begin work on newly authorized studies when funds are available. If authorized, the study is estimated to cost approximately $250,000. Given that the proposed area to be studied appears to be unlikely to meet the criteria for designation as a national historic trail, we believe our limited funds are best used to complete pending studies and other high-priority studies.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared testimony. I would be happy to answer any questions you or your committee may have.