STATEMENT OF D. THOMAS ROSS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, RECREATION AND CONSERVATION, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 1060 AND H.R. 1577, TO DESIGNATE THE VISITOR CENTER AT ORGAN PIPE CACTUS NATIONAL MONUMENT IN ARIZONA AS THE 'KRIS EGGLE VISITOR CENTER' AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

June 10, 2003




Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior's views on S. 1060 and H.R. 1577, to designate the visitor center at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona as the "Kris Eggle Visitor Center".

The Department supports the legislation and appreciates the recognition by members of Congress for the work of all National Park Service (NPS) employees, especially those involved in law enforcement.

Both bills call for the visitor center at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to be named for Kris Eggle. Kris was an outstanding young man, a dedicated NPS law enforcement officer, who died in the line of duty nearly a year ago while assisting in the arrest and capture of drug smugglers crossing into the United States from Mexico.

The legislation also calls for installing an interpretive sign at the visitor center and one at the Baker Mine-Milton Mine Loop trailhead. The signs will help inform and educate the public to the critical role law enforcement officers have in protecting visitors and resources on public lands. The signs will also dedicate the trail and center to Kris. The NPS has determined that the costs to add the appropriate signage to the visitor center and install the two exhibits will be approximately $15,000. Further costs to change maps, documents and other references to the visitor center will be incorporated when reprints are needed. None of these costs are presently part of the park's budget.

Much has been said and talked about Kris' death. The death of anyone so young is tragic, and to lose someone under these circumstances is even more so - for his family, friends, co-workers and all who care for and about National Parks. By helping the public understand the work and dedication of NPS law enforcement rangers and all NPS employees - through well-planned and designed educational exhibits and signs, perhaps we can prevent or minimize some of the dangers we all face in protecting these great American places and stories.

S. 1060 and H.R. 1577 are nearly identical. There are some differences in style and format. S. 1060 does contain a grammatical error that was corrected in the House bill. All references to "visitors' center" should read "visitor center". We look forward to working with this committee and the House to reach consensus on the language that will allow us to remember this fine young man.

That concludes my testimony. I would be glad to answer any questions that you or the members of the subcommittee may have.