Mr. COSTA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise today to introduce H.R. 3022, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act of 2008. This bill adds nearly 115 acres of wilderness in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California, two parks that are among the crown jewels of our Nation's national park system. Coupled with existing wilderness areas in the parks, this bill will expand the wilderness to about 97 percent on the land base that is included within the park area.
About 45,000 acres of the wilderness created by this bill will be incorporated into currently existing Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness Area. The other 70,000 acres will comprise a new wilderness area, which will be named after former Congressman John Krebs.
Congressman John Krebs served in this House from 1974 until 1978. He immigrated to this country when he was 17 years old. Like immigrants before him and immigrants since, he came here to find a better life for himself and his family. And in that effort, he contributed mightily, as all immigrants have, over the history of our Nation's years.
He served in this House with distinction and honor. He was tenacious, and one of the areas that he worked on was this area of wilderness within the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness Area.
So therefore it is appropriate that we designate this act by including this as a namesake, because within the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, we have California's and some of our country's most beautiful areas. The Redwood Canyon area contains Redwood Mountain Grove, the largest stand of giant sequoia within the parks. The Redwood Canyon also includes over 75 known caves, include the longest cave in California with over 21 miles of surveyed passage. The Hockett Plateau includes vast
rolling forests of lodgepole pine surrounding spectacular subalpine meadows. The area is a favorite designation for equestrians, backpackers and anglers, people who, like all of us, like to enjoy our mountains.
This bill is obviously important not only to me but for my colleague, Congressman Nunes, and all that have been a part of this effort, for preserving our natural areas for future generations is a responsibility that we all share in common. And it gives us an opportunity to honor Congressman John Krebs, whom I first went to work for back in the 1970s when he served in Congress. He was a mentor and still today is a friend and is living well in Fresno, California, at the young, tender age
So it is fitting and appropriate that we recognize the people who deserve credit for making this bill a reality. Among those, I want to thank Chairman Rahall, subcommittee Chairman Grijalva of the Natural Resources Committee for their support, their staffs, as well as the committee's minority staff that worked so hard on this bill, and the National Park Service.
In addition, there is a companion measure over in the Senate carried by Senator Boxer. I would very much like to thank her and her staff for their hard work, including most notably, the State director, Tom Bohigian, who devoted a great deal of time and energy to make this bill a reality.
Finally, I want to thank my colleague and dear friend, Congressman DEVIN NUNES, and his Deputy Chief of Staff, Damon Nelson, for their work on this bill. This is a sensitive issue. The land we are talking about resides within Congressman Nunes' congressional district. The wilderness created by H.R. 3022 there is important to Congressman Nunes, as well as to all of us, and I want to thank him for his hard work on this bill and for ensuring that he protects the interests
of his district and the local communities and the folks that live and work and recreate in the wilderness and surrounding areas.
Mr. Speaker, I request my colleagues to support the passage of H.R. 3022, as amended.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. NUNES. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to express my support for H.R. 3022, the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park Wilderness Act. I would also like to thank my good friend Mr. Costa and Senator Boxer for their willingness to work in a bipartisan manner to secure protections for my constituents.
When the idea of this designation was proposed, my constituents had three main concerns: Specifically, continued access to the hydroelectric facilities in the area; continued access for private and commercial horse stock users; and, finally, the cabin owners in the Mineral King and Silver City area needed assurances that they will continue to have access to their cabins in accordance with their Park Service permits. In each case, Congressman Costa and Senator Boxer agreed to
add language to the bill that would resolve these concerns.
First the cabin owners were provided a half-mile buffer zone around the cabins in order to ensure that management of the wilderness does not impact their access to and their maintenance of the cabins.
Second, operators of the hydroelectric facilities were ensured they will continue to have access to their facilities to conduct maintenance and inspections as necessary. They will continue to be allowed motorized access, including helicopters, if non-motorized access is not reasonably feasible. [Page: H5050]
Finally, the private and commercial horse stock users were provided strong assurances that nothing in the act precludes access to the areas that are designated wilderness. There have been recurring problems with such access to surrounding wilderness areas, and the language in this bill intends to ensure that those issues will not be repeated in this wilderness.
Again, these were hard-fought protections, and the work of my colleagues during the drafting period was invaluable and much appreciated.
At this time, I would like to yield to my colleague Mr. Costa and would appreciate any comments he may have about these specific provisions that I mentioned.
Mr. COSTA. First I would like to thank Congressman Nunes for your hard work and efforts on this. Without your support, I don't believe this measure would be a reality. The bipartisan effort I think is a commendation on how we ought to be working on all of our efforts here in the House.
Protecting the local interests was a concern of mine, as it was of yours, and I am glad that we were able to find ways to satisfy the existing uses within the wilderness and the park area, because having been one who has utilized that park and have enjoyed it over the years, I want to be able to continue to use it myself in those ways, as do all of our constituents from the valley, who believe this, as I said, is one of our crown jewels.
It was always a goal of mine that this be a bipartisan effort, and I am glad that Congressman Nunes feels comfortable with supporting the legislation and proud you were able to help make it a reality.
Mr. NUNES. Reclaiming my time, I want to thank the gentleman for his statements. I think this is a fitting tribute to Mr. Krebs, who dedicated his life to public service. He served on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors and also in the United States Congress honorably. Hopefully this wilderness bill ends up being something that is really done in a bipartisan manner, that after it is passed is also enacted in such a way that ensures use by all of our constituents, because really these are America's
parks and resources and we want to make sure that access is granted to those that want it.
So, thank you, Mr. Costa and Senator Boxer for honoring Mr. Krebs in this way, and I strongly urge passage of this bill.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. COSTA. In closing, I just again want to thank Congressman Nunes and thank Senator Boxer. I think it is fitting and appropriate that we name this additional wilderness area on behalf of a gentleman who dedicated a large part of his time to protect and preserve our heritage for future generations to come and was one of my mentors. It is a proud day for me to be here today to in fact make this happen.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.