4:02 PM EST

Rob Wittman, R-VA 1st

Mr. WITTMAN. Madam Speaker, H.R. 1141 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating prehistoric, historic, and limestone forest sites on Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as a unit of the National Park System.

The island of Rota contains cultural and natural resources, including caves with pictographs and several other prehistoric relics as well as sites from the 20th century Japanese occupation. Additionally, Rota has a natural limestone forest that is habitat for endangered species native to the island.

With that, Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:02 PM EST

Rob Wittman, R-VA 1st

Mr. WITTMAN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume, and I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration.

4:03 PM EST

Rob Wittman, R-VA 1st

Mr. WITTMAN. Madam Speaker, H.R. 1141 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating prehistoric, historic, and limestone forest sites on Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as a unit of the National Park System.

The island of Rota contains cultural and natural resources, including caves with pictographs and several other prehistoric relics as well as sites from the 20th century Japanese occupation. Additionally, Rota has a natural limestone forest that is habitat for endangered species native to the island.

With that, Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:03 PM EST

Kilili Sablan, D-MP

Mr. SABLAN. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1141, the Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act. The bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether it is suitable and feasible to add certain cultural, archeological, historical, and natural resources of the island of Rota in the Northern Marianas to the National Park System.

This same measure was approved by the House in 2010 without dissent, and I hope my colleagues will approve its passage again today.

I want to thank Chairman Hastings and Ranking Member Markey of the Natural Resources Committee for their support of H.R. 1141. I also want to [Page: H88]

thank Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Grijalva of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands for their help in bringing this measure to the floor.

We all understand that resources are limited and that we must not add to the debt our children and grandchildren will be responsible for tomorrow.

At the same time, we owe a debt to our descendants to preserve and protect those resources that we hold in trust for them today. Therefore, when considering adding a unit to the National Park System, we have to balance these two requirements. And we have a well established process for doing so.

The National Park Service began this process on the island of Rota in 2004. A study team assessed the ancient Mochon Latte Stone Village and other sites of the Chamorro people, who first inhabited the Marianas some 3,500 years ago. The team explored the Chugai Cave, containing over 90 pictographs of prehistoric origin. They inventoried the rare species of plants and animals endemic to the limestone forests that still blanket parts of Rota, home to the critically endangered aga, or Marianas crow,

and the endangered nosa Luta, or Rota bridled white-eye.

Having completed this field reconnaissance in September of 2005, the Park Service issued a report that concluded there are cultural and natural resources on the island of Rota that are of national significance. The Park Service recommended the next step in designation of a new unit of the Park System: A suitability and feasibility study. And H.R. 1141 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to take that next step and conduct the necessary study.

I would like to note that the people of Rota look forward to the possibility of having areas of their island added to the National Park System.

It was then-Senator Diego M. Songao of Rota who first encouraged the Park Service to conduct a reconnaissance of the archeological sites on his home island and to determine their importance as part of America's legacy.

Rota Representative Teresita A. Santos testified before the Natural Resources Committee enthusiastically supporting a national park on Rota.

Rota Mayor Melchor A. Mendiola of Rota has added his support to the record, as has Northern Mariana Islands Senate President Paul A. Manglona, who also hails from Rota.

Of course, during the study authorized by H.R. 1141, the people of Rota will continue to have ample opportunity to consider along with the Park Service the suitability and feasibility of including any particular areas of their island in park status.

The people of Rota understand the importance of their culture and of the natural resources and want to pass this on to their children and grandchildren. They also understand that preserving the remains of ancient Chamorro culture and the plants and animals of the limestone forests of Rota has value today because visitors from elsewhere in the world want to see that which is unique and experience what only Rota has to offer.

Last week, President Obama announced new initiatives to create jobs and spur economic growth in America by improving our visa system and by providing national parks, wildlife refuges, and historic sites to international travelers.

Being the closest part of America to the emerging economies of Asia, the Northern Marianas is eager to see new countries added to our visa waiver program. We want to have the unique cultural and natural resources of our islands added to the national treasures the President intends to promote.

We know that having areas on Rota designated as part of the National Park System will help create jobs in ecotourism, transportation, hotels and restaurants for the people of today. We understand that protecting and preserving these nationally significant resources on Rota will also help ensure jobs for our children and grandchildren in the future.

I urge my colleagues to support passage of H.R. 1141.

I yield back the balance of my time.