Senate Omnibus Bill Said Near; Rim Of The Valley Added
March 31, 2008
Washington, D.C. - A far-reaching bill (S 2739) that includes dozens of park and recreation measures approved by both the House and the Senate Energy Committee is inches away from the Senate floor.
The measure, at least the fourth such omnibus bill the committee has prepared, includes more than 60 individual bills the House has approved and the Senate committee has approved. Thus, if the Senate signs off on S 2739, the measure is virtually assured of final passage, subject to some last-second tinkering.
Private property rights advocates who have the ear of powerful western senators are up in arms. They are particularly annoyed that committee leaders this month added to S 2739 a bill they despise that was not in previous omnibus measures - legislation to authorize a Rim of the Valley study in California. Although the committee has not approved the Rim of the Valley bill (S 1053) this year, it has approved the measure the last three years.
The Rim of the Valley bill would authorize a study of the possible addition of 500,000 acres to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA.) Critics such as the American Land Rights Association (ALRA) contend that the launch of a study almost guarantees a positive recommendation for additions by the Park Service followed by Congressional approval of an SMMNRA expansion. And that could cost billions of dollars, the critics maintain.
"I really hate these omnibus bills," said Chuck Cushman, president of ALRA and long-term critic of Congressional spending on SMMNRA. "There are many desirable provisions in the omnibus bill but there are a lot of undesirable ones too. Congress ends up spending money that should be used for operation and maintenance of existing parks."
Almost all committee legislation has been held up for most of a year by "holds" placed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) He reportedly objects to any legislation that would come with a price tag and require additional spending.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic leaders have apparently decided to proceed with S 2739 and attempt to break Coburn's holds by summoning the needed 60 votes for cloture. "The plan as I understand it is for Sen. Reid to call the bill up for a cloture vote to defeat the hold," said a committee staff member. That could happen as early as next week.
Committee Republicans support the omnibus bill but are trying to stay out of the crossfire between Reid and Coburn. "We're trying to avoid the spray since a Republican senator is responsible for the delay," said a Republican committee staff member. "But we would like to see the package move."
After the Senate acts on S 2739, it may take up a second package of committee-passed measures that the House has NOT acted on. "We're only doing House-passed bills right now," said the majority staff member. "The next package behind it contains things that we have done but the House has not." No timetable has been set for the second bill but it could come up in the next month.
That could open the way for Senate consideration in the second package of a major bill (S 1139) to certify the 26 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The committee approved S 1139 May 23, 2007, but the bill has not moved since. The House Natural Resources Committee approved a counterpart bill (HR 2016) March 12. Because the full House hasn't approved the NLCS bill, it may be a candidate for the next package. However, it does carry some baggage.
The Bush administration generally supports the Rim of the Valley legislation. And Democrats in the California Congressional delegation, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, solidly back it. The House approved Schiff's bill Dec. 4, 2007, as part of an omnibus House bill, HR 3998. The Senate Energy Committee has scheduled a hearing for April 9 on the House-passed bill.
SMMNRA is the largest urban park in the National Park System with 153,750 acres within its boundaries. NPS says the area provides recreational opportunities for approximately 530,000 visitors annually. The study area extends over 491,518 acres and includes considerable private property.
Here are some other bills included in the Senate omnibus measure:
HERITAGE AREAS: The new omnibus bill includes measures dealing with a number of national heritage areas (NHAs.) S 2739 would designate a Journey Through Hallowed Ground NHA in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia; an Abraham Lincoln NHA in Illinois; and a Niagara Falls NHA in New York.
The House approved a multi-faceted national heritage areas bill (HR 1483) Oct. 25, 2007, that would designate six new NHAs including Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Abraham Lincoln and Niagara Falls.
Like the House, S 2739 would increase a spending ceiling on these nine NHAs from $10 million to $15 million: National Coal Heritage Area in West Virginia, the Tennessee Civil War Heritage Area, the Augusta Canal NHA in Georgia, the Steel Industry American Heritage Area in Pennsylvania, the Essex NHA in Massachusetts, the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor, America's Agricultural Heritage Partnership in Iowa, the Ohio & Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor in Ohio, and the Hudson River Valley NHA in New York.
Not included in S 2739 are at least four NHAs that the Senate committee has approved but the House has not acted on. They are candidates for the next committee package. They are a Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor in Massachusetts and Connecticut; Sangre de Cristo NHA in Colorado; South Park NHA in Colorado; and Chattahoochee Trace National Heritage Corridor in Georgia and Alabama.
Also not included in S 2739 are at least three NHA bills approved by the House that would designate a Muscle Shoals NHA in Alabama; a Freedom's Way NHA in Massachusetts and New Hampshire; and a Santa Cruz Valley NHA in Arizona.
* TRAILS: S 2739 would designate a Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The House approved its bill (HR 1388) July 23, 2007.
* RIVERS: S 2739 would designate the Eightmile River in Connecticut as a wild and scenic river. The House approved its bill (HR 986) July 31, 2007.
* MISCELLANEOUS: S 2739 includes 21 other bills dealing with the Park Service, including boundary adjustments, studies, designation of commissions, and land conveyances. In addition the bill includes a Wild Sky wilderness bill for national forests in Washington, two land bills for the Bureau of Land Management, 14 water resources bills, two Department of Energy bills and two territories bills.
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Voting In The Dark On Rim Of The Valley National Land Grab.
Rim of the Valley is now part of huge Omnibus Parks Bill (S2739) to be voted on right after April 1st.
It's technical title is --Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008)--
S2739 includes the infamous Rim of the Valley National Park. S2739 is part of a huge Omnibus Parks Bill that includes many new parks, heritage areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers and much more.
They put these bills into packages to make them very difficult to fight. Because so many Members of the Senate have a little or big bill in the overall S2739 package, they don't take the time to look at the other bills. The result is a lot of bad bills get slipped by.
All the bills in S2739 have already passed the House.
So it is do or die to stop S2739 now.
S2739 Threatens Landowners Nationwide
Senate Energy Committee Bypasses Rim of the Valley Hearing. They held a hearing several years ago before people began to wake up about what Rim of the Valley really meant.
Committee has failed to even look at a map of Rim of the Valley. So they will be voting completely in the Dark when they come back from Easter Vacation.
No one in the Senate has seen a map of the Rim of the Valley. Parks Committee staff was given enough maps for all the members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee but they were never handed out.
Look below to see if your Senator is on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. You can reach any Senator at (202) 224-3121. Ask his staff to get a copy of the Rim of the Valley Map. They can get it by calling Tom Lillie at the Parks Subcommittee at (202) 224-4971. There are only enough maps for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee Members.
You can see a quality map by going to www.landrights.org
The New Rim Of The Valley Park Study Bill is Being Rushed Through Congress - Would Convert LA area National Forests Into National Parks
Urgent Action Required
The Massive Rim Of The Valley Fire Hazard Moving In The Senate
It is called Rim Of The Valley National Park (S 2739).
Rim of the Valley will place a Park Service noose around the necks of 169,000 threatened landowners. 158,000 in LA County and 11,000 in Ventura County.
The regulatory cost is staggering. Landowners have no idea what is coming at them.
$2 Billion is our projected land acquisition cost but it could easily cost much more. That will make it the most expensive national park in history. It will jeopardize funding for other parks nationwide needing money for maintenance for years to come.
The Park Service is approximately $10 billion behind in basic health and safety-deferred maintenance. At some point we need to take care of what we've got rather than keep adding and adding.
It is amazing that the Energy and Natural Resources Committee is doing so little research when over $2 billion plus of your money is at stake.
The Park Service is a bad neighbor when it comes to fire. They will not allow you to clean your land of fire hazard brush and will not clean their own ground. Giving the Park Service control imposes a huge fire hazard on any landowners near the Rim of the Valley.
Rim of the Valley is adjacent to and attached to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. That area's real claim to fame is that it burns every five years.
-----Call Now. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is at this time not going to hold a hearing on the Rim Of The Valley Land Grab.
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee is bypassing a hearing because the Committee has passed Rim of the Valley before. You need to request a new hearing. They did not even have maps before. ALRA has now has made large color maps available.
It is urgent that you call both your Senators plus the Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee listed below. Send them e-mail or fax also.
It is critical that you call both your Senators today to oppose S 2739. Any Senator may be called at (202) 224-3121. Ask that they request the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to hold a new hearing on S 2739, the Rim of the Valley bill.
-----The only way for local groups to fight local issues when threatened by Federal national proposals is to band together nationwide and support each other.
You, by calling, e-mailing or faxing today, will save people who will then be there tomorrow to help you when you are personally threatened if you are not now.
Rim of the Valley is a giant new National Park being slipped by Congress as a supposed addition to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
-----It will include and threaten 158,000 private parcels in Los Angeles County and 11,000 in Ventura County. These are in addition to those landowners trapped in the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
There are many National Forest Cabin Permittees in the proposed area. Large portions of the Angeles National Forest will be converted into National Park. The San Bernardino and Las Padres National Forests are also threatened with at least partial national park status. Call any cabinowners you know to urge that they oppose S 2739. The Park Service does not allow permit cabins.
(Energy and Natural Resources Fax and e-mail addresses listed below). It is especially important to call or write if your Senator is on the list. A fax is the best way to send your letter.
Background on Rim of the Valley:
S 2739 (Rim of the Valley) would surround the:
parts of the Santa Monica Mountains;
the Santa Susanna Mountains;
the San Gabriel Mountains;
the Verdugo Mountains;
the San Rafael Hills;
and adjacent connector areas to the Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests.
In California with a huge New National Park area.
S 2739 and the Rim of the Valley will cost over $2 billion making it the most expensive park in American history. That is the way Santa Monica Mountains NRA started out. It was only supposed to cost $155 million in 1978. Today it is over $1 billion and continuing skyward.
S 2739 is called the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act and would study expanding the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area by adding a corridor of all the mountains surrounding the San Fernando Valley, La Crescenta Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Simi Valley and Conejo Valley.
Don't be confused when they call it a study. If this bill passes, Congress will ask the giant Park Service bureaucracy if they want more land, more money, more power and more people. What do you think any self-respecting bureaucracy is going to say? Of course they want it. They always want more.
The Rim of the Valley consists of parts of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Santa Susanna Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Verdugo Mountains, the San Rafael Hills, and adjacent connector areas to the Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests according to Congressmen Adam Schiff.
The study area will encompass 491,518 acres. That is nearly three and a half times the size of the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area that is 153,750 acres and over two thirds the size of Yosemite. All that in an urban area.
You can see a map by going to www.landrights.org Just click on the link on the website homepage.
This map was originally produced by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. They have deliberately tried to hide the full impact of S 2739 by how they have shaded the areas in the map. They call it a corridor but it actually surrounds and includes huge areas of land. The Park Service does not like private land within their boundaries. They will try to buy it all over time.
**Be sure to call your local newspapers to get them to print a map of the giant new Rim of the Valley National Park Service area.
This is part of the giant plan promoted by the Park Service, the Nature Conservancy and the Wildlands Project for a nationwide series of corridors linking all the parks and forests in the United States. This has the potential for a massive takeover of National Forest and other Federal lands by the Park Service.
Don't dismiss this because it is in California. If they pass this proposal, some Members of Congress will be emboldened to add new and expanded areas where you live.
S 2739 will put a circle of Park Service control around tens of thousands of landowners. Anyone familiar with how the Park Service works knows that is the beginning of ratcheting down the regulatory controls and land
acquisition. They want it all eventually. This writer was told by the Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks in the Carter Administration in 1978: "If Congress puts a circle around it, we're going to own it all."
The Rim of the Valley will become a huge fire hazard. The Park Service will prevent landowners from removing vegetation and brush for fire protection and will not clean their land. The result will be fires even more massive than you are suffering now. This is not speculation. This is how the Park Service presently manages the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
More Action Items:
-----A. You need to call, fax and e-mail both your Senators in opposition to S 2739 immediately. Every Senator can be reached at (202) 224-3121. Ask for the fax and e-mail of the staff person who handles park issues when you call. Send them a one-page message stating your opposition to S2739. This is critical.
-----B. Ask both your Senators to hold a new hearing on S 2739 where they actually examine the map of the proposed area and get a cost analysis.
-----C. Be sure to go to www.landrights.org for a copy of the map of the Rim of the Valley. You can enlarge it to make it more readable. Make sure you ask your local newspapers to print a map of the proposed Rim of the Valley National Park Service area. People have no idea what is coming at them. If you don't have the equipment to enlarge it, take a disk with the file off the web to Kinkos and they can do it.
Call any Senator at (202) 224-3121.
Here is the full Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Write them asking them why the never looked at the map of Rim of the Valley. Ask them to remove Rim of the Valley from the Omnibus Parks Bill (S2739).
(Note: when you see a space in the e-mail, it is an underscore.)
Pete Domenici (R-NM) - Fax: (202) 228-3261 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Craig (R-ID) - Fax: (202) 228-1067 - E-mail: email@example.com
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) - Fax: (202) 224-5301 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Burr (R-NC) (Ranking Minority Member) - Fax: (202) 228-2981 - E-mail: email@example.com
Jim DeMint (R-SC) - Fax: (202) 228-5143 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Corker (R¬TN) - Fax: (202) 228-0566 - E-mail: email@example.com
Jeff Sessions (R-AL) - Fax: (202) 224-3149 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Bunning (R-KY) - Fax: (202) 228-1373 - E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Gordon Smith (R-OR) - Fax: (202) 228-3997 - E-mail: email@example.com
Mel Martinez (R-FL) - Fax: (202) 228-5172 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Barrasso (R-WY) - Fax: (202) 224-1724 - E-mail: email@example.com; shawn_Whitman@barrasso.senate.gov
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) (Chairman) - Fax: 202) 224-2852 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Akaka (D-HI) - Fax: (202) 224-2126 - E-mail: email@example.com
Byron Dorgan (D-ND) - Fax: (202) 224-1193 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ron Wyden (D-OR) Chairman - Fax: (202) 228-2717 - E-mail: Joshua_sheinkman@wyden.senate.gov
Tim Johnson (D-SD) - Fax: (202) 228-5765 - E-mail: email@example.com
Mary Landrieu (D-LA) - Fax: (202) 224-9735 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Cantwell (D-WA) - Fax: (202) 228-0514 - E-mail: email@example.com
Ken Salazar (D-CO) - Fax: (202) 228-5036 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Menendez (D-NJ) - Fax: (202) 228-2197 - E-mail: email@example.com
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) - Fax: (202) 228-1371 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernard Sanders (I-VT) - Fax: (202) 228-0776 - E-mail: email@example.com
Jon Tester (D-MT) - Fax: (202) 224-8593 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
If S 2739 passes and the huge expansion eventually passes Congress it will:
-----1. Will threatened thousands of landowners and recreation users.
-----2. Create a huge fire hazard. The Park Service will not allow you to clear your brush and they will not clear theirs. The result could be a disaster.
-----3. By our estimate, it will cost over $2 billion dollars and perhaps a great deal more to carry out their grandiose land acquisition and regulatory scheme. It will become a never-ending money pit with Congress having to keep up with public expectations.
-----4. Would study expanding the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area by adding a corridor encircling large portions of all the mountains surrounding the San Fernando Valley, La Crescenta Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Simi Valley and Conejo Valley in California on the North side of Los Angeles.
-----5. S 2739 includes part of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Santa Susanna Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Verdugo Mountains, the San Rafael Hills, and adjacent connector areas to the Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests.
-----6. The study area will encompass 491,518 acres, that's two-thirds the size of Yosemite. It's nearly three and a half times the size of the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area which is 153,750 acres. It will run approximately 300 miles giving it a huge scope.
-----7. Will control land use within and adjacent corridors by threatening eminent domain (condemnation) of the land. That is how they prevent
building and lots of other uses. ALRA saved a ski area in Maine recently that had been continually threatened with condemnation.
-----8. S 2739 will ultimately dilute the Park Service budget meaning less care for other parks.
-----9. The combined length of these corridors is likely to run as much as 300 miles long. The Santa Monica Mountains Corridor NRA is only about 40 miles long and is already costing over one billion dollars.
-----10. The corridors will be like a series of giant nooses put around the necks of the many communities in the encircled areas. Economic and social activities will be greatly inhibited. Access people now take for granted will be lost forever. Frankly, the Park Service has a record of being a very bad neighbor. Go to www.landrights.org for several socio-cultural assessments and histories of Park Service abuses.
-----11. There will be a massive increase in regulations controlling private and community activities with the encircled areas. S 2739 will interdict transportation corridors, which will mean new bridges and passageways for wildlife corridors throughout the region.
----12. They'll use the wildlife as an excuse for substantial new regulatory controls. They'll build bridges for the wildlife over the freeways but you'll be locked out. For example over 90% of Yosemite is now closed off to most of the public. They are closing campgrounds and parking lots and soon you will have to take a bus just to get into the park.
----13. Force the closure of hundreds of miles of exiting roadways substantially reducing motorized recreation.
----14. It will be hard or impossible to get communication towers and other utilities installed in these corridors.
----15. They say they will put in hiking trails, but the area is so hot in the summer that very little hiking takes place. There is virtually no water. In the winter, it becomes floods and mud. At the existing Santa Monica Mountains NRA they have to actually bus people out of the center of the City of Los Angeles in order to increase visitorship. People who have a choice don't spend much time there.
----16. Movie and TV companies who use these areas for films will be prevented from doing their normal work. The Park Service likes naturalness. They don't really like people. They just want enough to justify their budget.
----17. Creation of the Rim of the Valley Corridor could require tougher Class I air standards that would have a negative impact on private industry throughout the San Fernando Valley and the other areas. If you like the notion of viewsheds and soundsheds, you love the Rim of the Valley Corridor bill.
----18. The House has not held a hearing on S 2739. They did hold a hearing on another very different bill a year ago. The Senate held a hearing but had no one testify against the bill. That's fairness for you. You would think they would want to hear from both sides. So Congress is really operating in the dark.
----19. Even though there is very little water, what exists is valuable. S 347 will give the National Park Service a large measure of control over all the high ground around these valleys. Historically that means the agency uses that power to interdict the goals of local communities and business.
----20. The Park Service also seeks to keep communities from allowing landowners to use their land by threatening the cities and towns with the loss of Federal funds of all kinds.
Why is the Rim of the Valley Corridor bill (S 2739) so important?
It will threaten thousands of landowners and permittees in the mountains around Los Angeles. It will threaten private owners in the Angeles National Forest and may threaten owners in the Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests as well.
When the Park Service takes over a Forest Service area, landowners and recreation users lose. The Park Service does not like private uses and has almost no permit system.
S 2739 will set a standard nationwide for corridor and greenway bills involving many urban and rural communities. It will likely lead to other corridor measures in other National Forests. If you like the notion of viewsheds and soundsheds, you love the Rim of the Valley Corridor bill. If they pass it in California, it will be hard to stop in other areas.
S 2739 is a "study" bill. But it is much cheaper and easier to stop the study bill than to stop the authorizing bill that will most certainly come later. They are using S 2739 because that is the Senate version of the bill introduced and passed through the Senate by Diane Feinstein (D-CA).
If you don't live anywhere near Los Angeles, why should you care? Because these studies are the first step toward a Federal land grab in your area. They are the camels nose under the tent.
Even if you live in Arizona, Washington, Idaho or Colorado, a few calls to your Senator can make a huge difference. As few as ten letters in a Congressional district will get that Senator thinking about why he should vote for this bill. Usually he will get very few calls in support from greens in your state. So a few calls like yours really count.
Any Senator can all be reached at the same number by calling the Capital Switchboard at (202) 225-3121. Ask for the Senator you are calling when the switchboard operator answers. When their staff answers the phone, ask for the person who handles National Parks or Resources Committee matters or S 2739.
S 2739 is really creating a monster new national park. The size is huge and the cost will be even larger. The size could be a series of corridors with a total length as long as 300 miles and costing you, the taxpayer over $2 billion dollars.
Ultimately what the Park Service will want is a giant network of corridors, some very wide, covering all the mountains around the North West part of Los Angeles and part of Ventura Counties. Some of these corridors will likely mean the conversion of multiple-use land managed by the US Forest Service to the National Park Service.
The Park Service is famous for its land grabbing and regulatory technique. One example is that Santa Monica Mountains NRA is well known for being a park where the Park Service was sued and ultimately had to pay large damages for initiating a raid against an innocent rancher, Donald Scott, who was killed in the raid. All because the Park Service wanted his land.
The Park Service has been a nightmare for landowners in Santa Monica Mountains. Relations with landowners and others who traditionally used the area have always been bad and continue that way.
It was supposed to be a "string of pearls" with most land left in private hands. But that concept largely went away as the Santa Monica Mountains NRA gradually grew and more landowners were wiped out.
The National Park Service promised they would protect private property owners and that most private land would not be purchased. However, they continually expand their appetite so the scope and cost of the NRA just keeps increasing.
The Santa Monica Mountains NRA surrounded thousands of landowners preventing them from getting access. Then they bought out the major landowners and just left the small landowners to twist in the wind. Numerous complaints have been filed about the Park Service creating hardships and doing nothing about it.
That is what will happen in the Rim of the Valley Corridor. It will start with a small scope and gradually increase over time until the Federal Government and the National Park Service take over huge portions of the mountains around Los Angeles.
The proposed new Park Service area is likely to cost over $2 billion in additional dollars. That could be grossly understated. The funding required would detract from existing National Parks that are already strapped for funds for basic health, safety and visitor services.
If you live in California, call at least three friends to ask them to call, fax and e-mail. Call as many as you can.
If you live in another state, you should still call your friends and allies and get them to call their Senators and send e-mails and faxes opposing this giant and very expensive land grab - S 2739. Refer to it as the Rim of The Valley and the Parks Omnibus Bill.
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400
Battle Ground, WA 98604