CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 4686 is scheduled to be considered on the House floor on Tuesday, July 13, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-MP). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural resources.
H.R. 4686 would require the Secretary of Interior to conduct a study of the suitability and feasibility of designating prehistoric, historic, and limestone forest sites on the island of Rota, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as a unit of the National Park System. The Secretary would be required to report the findings and recommendations of the study within 18 months of the funding being made available.
According to the bill's findings, the Island of Rota was the only major island in the Mariana Islands that did no 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 to conduct a study to determine if the Island should be included as a unit of the National Park Service (NPS).
The NPS is facing a huge maintenance deficit and collapsing national park infrastructure. According to CRS, the NPS backlog for maintenance on existing buildings, trails, and other infrastructure was more than $9 billion in FY 2006. 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. As a result of the backlog, NPS infrastructure is deteriorating at a rapid rate. CRS notes that some estimates put the existing backlog as high as $12.42 billion. Some Members may be concerned that expanding the responsibilities of NPS would be unsustainable without addressing the current management structure which has resulted in such a large, unfunded maintenance backlog.
According to CBO, H.R. 4686 would cost approximately$200,000 over the next three years.