WASHINGTON, D.C. С Bills pertaining to state and federal management of national parks and other public lands were discussed during a Nov. 21 hearing in the nation’s capital.
The hearing included discussion of Rep. Chris Stewart’s Provide Access and Retain Continuity Act (PARC). It would enable states to continue operating national parks if future federal shutdowns take place. The bill was introduced in October, as the latest federal shutdown was impacting the county and nation.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah conducted the hearing. He is chairman of the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee.
Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox was among guests who testified at the hearing, a press release from Bishop’s office said.
“The common thread was that the centralized Soviet-style management of our public lands and resources should be abandoned,” Bishop said. “It’s the ‘old’ way of doing things and we’re in an era where that simply no longer works.”
He added that such a management method may never have worked and added that the way of managing federal land should be re-evaluated.
Ґ Providing Access and Retain Continuing (PARC) Act, H.R. 3311, introduced by Rep. Stewart, directs the Secretary of the Interior to forge agreements with states to allow continued operation of facilities and programs.
Those would be programs determined to have direct economic impact on tourism, mining, timber, or general transportation in the state. Such programs would also be deemed to otherwise cease operating, in whole or in part, during a federal government shutdown that results from a lapse in appropriations.
“It is my hope this legislation will protect the hard working citizens of this nation from the uncertainties of politics,” said Stewart in a press release commenting on the hearing and his bill.
“It is not just good economic policy, it is humane policy,” Stewart said of giving governors and state governments ability to develop contingency plans.
“(Last month) the State of Utah and Department of Interior were able to quickly negotiate an agreement in which the state would upfront the money to the National Park Service to operate Utah’s national parks and monuments until the federal budget crisis was resolved,” said Lt. Gov. Cox about the national park closure impact.
He said impact to Utah alone of closures was immediate and dramatic during the shutdown. The parks and monuments add about $100 million a month to the state’s economy, and should continue operating during any federal shutdown.
Ґ Protecting States, Opening National Parks Act, H.R. 3286: It would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to reimburse states that used state funds to operate national parks during the federal government shutdown, including Utah.
Ґ State-Run Federal Lands Act, H.R. 3294: It would establish a streamlined process where each state may claim authority over, and responsibility for, management of federal lands located in the state without claiming ownership of the land.
Ґ River Paddling Protection Act, H.R. 3492: It would provide for the use of hand-propelled vessels in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the National Elk Refuge.
Ґ H.R. 915, authorizing the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation to establish a commemorative work in the District of Columbia and vicinity.