Sunday, January 3, 2010

US ParksService's Alma Ripps on Maurice Hinchey's Hudson Valley Federal Park Proposal

Alma Ripps of the US Parks Service has responded to my inquiry concerning the implications of Congressman Maurice Hinchey's HR 4003, which would begin a process of federalizing the Hudson Valley, as follows:

Mr. Langbert,

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding legislation introduced by Representative Maurice Hinchey, H.R. 4003, which would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of resources in the Hudson River Valley in the State of New York. I apologize for the tardiness in responding to your inquiry. As you can imagine, it is sometimes difficult to reach people during the holiday season to provide information.

The bill does not propose to establish a park in the Hudson River Valley, rather, it would (if enacted) initiate a study to determine whether any resources in the region meet the criteria for potential congressional designation. Such studies determine whether resources are nationally significant, suitable for inclusion into the National Park System, feasible to administer, and require management by the National Park Service versus being able to be managed by others. At the conclusion of a study (which normally takes two or more years), if resources in the region are found to meet these criteria, separate legislation would need to be enacted by Congress to establish a unit of the National Park System.

The Department of the Interior does not take an official position on pending legislation until a hearing by a congressional committee is conducted. To date, no hearing has been scheduled on this bill.

Since a study of the Hudson River Valley has not even been authorized, much less concluded, it would be premature to offer any conjecture on what the implications of establishing a unit of the National Park System in the region might entail. The first question, of course, is whether one or more resources would meet the criteria indicated above. Even when a study does determine that resources qualify for congressional consideration for establishment of a unit (although most do not), alternatives to National Park Service management must be explored and detailed in the study report.

Today, there are various models of units of the National Park System ranging from the traditional model where the National Park Service owns and manages a resource to those where we have limited or no ownership interest and work with partners for the continued protection of natural or cultural resources and to promote public understanding of their importance to the nation through education and interpretation. An example of the latter model is the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area where we partner with state and nonprofit organizations and provide financial, technical and interpretive assistance. We also have affiliated areas of the National Park System which we do not manage, but provide financial and technical
assistance to those organizations that protect the resource. A study permits us to tailor the appropriate model to the resource(s), assuming that the criteria for potential designation have first been met.

Should a study of the Hudson River Valley be authorized by Congress, an extensive public involvement process would accompany the study since public support for any potential designation is a key aspect of the feasibility analysis. A study must also provide an analysis of environmental, cultural and socio-economic impacts of a unit of the National Park System should one be determined eligible for establishment.

Since you mentioned the Catskills and the Adirondacks, we assume you understand that the regulatory policies affecting those two regions were enacted by the New York State Legislature and are administered by agencies of the State, not the federal government. Currently, we have a cooperative relationship with the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area which was established by Congress in 1996. No unique federal regulations apply to this area because of that designation, although the National Park Service provides financial and technical assistance to the heritage area.

We hope the above information has been helpful and that you will understand that we are not in a position to provide detailed answers to your questions since we have not commenced a study of the region to determine if a unit of the National Park System could be established in the Hudson River Valley.

Thank you for your interest in the National Park Service. Please contact me if you have further questions.


1 comment:

Allan Wikman said...

Another of commie Hinchey's "generous" offers to spend OUR MONEY much more efficiently than we may ourselves. Especially, since we have none left after being taxed into starvation.

Besides it's unconstitutional. But just try to get a court to grant you "standing."