STATEMENT OF DENIS P. GALVIN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING H.R. 2949, A BILL TO ESTABLISH THE AUGUSTA CANAL NATIONAL HERITAGE CORRIDOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Mr. Chairman, it is a pleasure to appear here today to present the Department's views on H.R. 2949, a bill to establish the Augusta Canal National Heritage Corridor in Georgia.
We recommend enactment of H.R. 2949 with an amendment to provide that the designation of the heritage corridor shall not take effect until the Secretary of the Interior approves the partnership compact for the heritage corridor that is now under development.
The proposed American Heritage Area Partnership Program Act of 1994, H.R. 3707, as reported by this Committee, would establish a National program for American Heritage areas. It sets forth a process for developing and establishing these areas: (1) feasibility study, (2) compact development, (3) evaluation and approval by the Secretary of the Interior, and (4) designation by Congress. It also specifies criteria and conditions that must be met by potential heritage areas and assures a consistent, partnering approach. As such, it would bring uniformity and consistency to the program. It is important that these steps be followed to insure that the criteria are met and that the capabilities and commitments exist to effectively develop and manage a successful American Heritage Area.
The Augusta Canal corridor is rich with cultural and natural resources which merit national recognition and protection. If enacted, this legislation would establish the Augusta Canal National Heritage Corridor along the Savannah River at Augusta, Georgia. The operational entity would be the Augusta Canal Authority. The proposed legislation directs the Authority to submit a management plan to the Secretary of the Interior for his review and concurrence. Upon concurrence the Secretary is authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with the Authority, the State of Georgia or its political subdivisions, or individuals to provide technical assistance in the protection, interpretation and enhancement of resources identified in the management plan. Federal entities conducting or supporting activities affecting the corridor are required to consult with the Secretary and cooperate with the Secretary and the Augusta Canal Authority to conduct or support such activities in a manner that will not have an adverse effect on the Corridor.
The Augusta Canal Authority recently completed a feasibility study, The Augusta Canal Master Plan. The plan identifies actions to preserve the canal and related resources, while proposing strategies to extend the influence of the Canal and its setting to enhance the natural and urban environment of Augusta. The Master Plan is intended to be used as a long-term guide to the preservation and development of the Augusta Canal in order to maximize its benefits to the community. The plan assessed the resources of the corridor and the interests and roles of potential partners, described the boundaries of the heritage corridor and identifies the Augusta Canal Authority as the management entity.
It would appear that the Augusta Canal Master Plan, Part 2: Technical Plan, dated December 1993, but released two weeks ago, satisfies all of the criteria established for American Heritage Area feasibility studies in H.R. 3707. The plan presents a well thought out agenda. While we believe that there are the makings of an American Heritage Area in Augusta, we recommend the bill be amended to make designation of the heritage area contingent upon the completion and approval of a compact in a manner consistent with H.R. 3707. This is especially important in order to define before designation, the clear relationship and responsibilities of each partner, and to define the appropriate Federal role. More specifically, and as called for in the plan, there needs to be: adoption of the plan by the city of Augusta, the two counties involved, and the State; commitments from all levels of government to fund the necessary work; evidence of commitment to modify zoning regulations; and evidence of commitment to create a State park. Also there needs to be additional discussion of what the precise boundaries of the heritage area will be and why.
This concludes my prepared remarks, Mr. Chairman, I would be pleased to respond to any questions that you, or other members of the committee, may have.
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