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Gregorio S.
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  • Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act

    by Representative Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan

    Posted on 2013-02-13

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    SABLAN of the commonwealth of the northern mariana islands in the house of representatives Wednesday, February 13, 2013 Mr. SABLAN. Mr. Speaker, today I am re-introducing the Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act, which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to report to Congress on the feasibility and suitability of designating certain areas on the island of Rota as a unit of our magnificent national parks system. This same measure passed the House in both the 111th and the 112th Congresses. I hope that we can quickly bring the bill to the floor in the 113th Congress for passage again and send the measure back to the other body for its agreement.

    The cultural and natural resources of Rota merit our persistence. In 2005 a National Park Service reconnaissance survey determined [[Page E134]] that these resources meet the standards of national significance and are not adequately represented anywhere else in our national parks. The next step in the very thorough and methodical process of choosing which areas of our Nation should become part of the system is the determination of feasibility and suitability, which my bill authorizes.

    Rota's cultural resources are truly unique. People first arrived on the island some 3,500 years ago. Remnants of their ancient settlements are found at several sites and include the iconic latte stone houses. These consist of two parallel rows of limestone columns with each column supporting a hemispherical capstone upon which a wooden framed house was placed. A quarry for these columns and capstones is also among the archaeologically important sites that could eventually be part of a Rota National Park.

    Also of national significance are Rota's natural resources, not least of which is the native limestone forest there that provides habitat to the endangered Mariana crow, the Aga. This rare species is protected under both local and federal laws; and its future could be further assured if areas of its already limited range were incorporated into a park.

    The Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act was passed by the House in both the 111th and 112th Congress with broad bipartisan support. One important reminder made then and worth repeating is that passage of the Act gives the Rota study no special preference. There are other suitability and feasibility studies, which Congress has approved and which are waiting in turn for the National Park Service to have the resources to conduct. The bill I am introducing simply ensures that the island of Rota is in that queue.

    That is not to say there is no urgency to completing a study. Rota is very much at a crossroads. Land use changes are taking place that could affect eventual park boundaries. Rare and endangered species, such as the Aga, would be safer with the permanent protection of a park. The economy of Rota, which could be developed around themes of eco-tourism, needs a high value destination that park designation would provide. These are some of the many reasons that the people of Rota support the park study and why I am introducing the bill today.

    I want to thank all those Members who are original cosponsors of the Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act. And I want to thank the hundreds of House Members who voted in favor of this study in the 111th and 112th Congresses. I ask that you do so again, when this bill returns to the floor in the 113th Congress ____________________

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