CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 4003 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Maurice Hinchey on November 3, 2009, and referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. On March 11, 2010 the bill was reported, as amended.
H.R. 4003 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to complete a study of the Hudson River Valley to evaluate the national significance of the section of the Hudson River that flows from Rodgers Island at Fort Edward to the southern-most boundary of Westchester County, New York. The study will evaluate the suitability and feasibility of designating the area as a unit of the National Park System. Under the legislation, the Secretary would be required to report the findings of the study no later than 36 months after the date that funds are first made available. The Secretary would be required to determine the effects of National Park Service designation on a variety of recreational, commercial, and energy concerns in the Hudson River Valley.
The Hudson River has played an important role in the history of Native American communities and crucial events relating to the French and Indian War and the American Revolution and Robert Fulton's first successful steamboat voyage. The study would cover an area spanning nearly 200 miles in 12 counties. The passage of legislation in 1996 establishing the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area provided a framework for additional heritage tourism opportunities in the river valley.
Carol W. LaGrasse, president of the Property Rights Foundation of America, testified before the Committee on Natural Resources, in opposition to the bill on January 21, 2010. Her concerns center around the problems associated with the National Park Service interfering with established legal access to private property should the area be deemed worthy of inclusion in the National Park System. She cited a similar situation in the Adirondack State Park.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Bishop offered an amendment to the bill that would instruct the Secretary of the Interior to determine the effects of National Park Service designation on a variety of recreational, commercial, and energy concerns in the Hudson River Valley. Furthermore, the amendment would instruct the Secretary to determine any authorities that will compel or permit the Secretary to influence local land use decisions or place restrictions on non-federal land. The amendment was adopted by a roll call vote of 35-0.
CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4003 would cost up to $500,000 over the next three years.