CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, January 23, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider, H.R. 1141, the Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-third majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on March 16, 2011, by Del. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) and referred to the committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill by unanimous consent on June 15, 2011.
H.R. 1141 would require the Secretary of the Interior to carry out a study of the feasibility of designating forest sites on the Island of Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as a unit of the National Park System (NPS). The study would have to be competed and the results transmitted to Congress within three years of funds being made available for the study. According to CBO, carrying out the study required by H.R. 1141 would cost approximately $200,000 over the next three years.
According to the bill's findings, the Island of Rota was the only major island in the Mariana Islands that did not suffer significant damage during World War II. The island contains examples of the culture of the indigenous Chamorro people of the Mariana Islands, including prehistoric stone structures. The island also contains remnants from its Japanese period between 1914 and 1945. This legislation would require the Secretary of Interior to conduct a study to determine if the Island should be included as a unit of the National Park Service (NPS). Similar legislation in the 111th Congress (H.R. 4686) was approved by voice vote on July 13, 2010.
The NPS is facing a maintenance deficit and a deteriorating national park infrastructure. According to CRS, while the NPS has improved inventory and asset management systems, the estimate of its deferred maintenance backlog has continued to mount. The Department of Interior (DOI) estimated deferred maintenance for the NPS for FY2010 at between $8.77 billion and $12.89 billion, with a mid-range figure of $10.83 billion. The backlog is a result of the NPS’s failing to do scheduled maintenance and upkeep that was either not funded or carried out according to plan.
According to CBO, carrying out the study required by H.R. 1141 would cost approximately $200,000 over the next three years.