Critera, Compatibility and CMZ
Cliff Courtney, Vice President of Stehekin Heritage, presented the following at the NPS LLP and SRCIP Meeting January 1/10/11 at the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin
It was through a long process of failed bills, contention and compromise that we ended up with our enabling legislation which is public law 90-544.One of the main reasons this area was taken out of the park proper and put in to a NRA was because of the Stehekin Community and the desire for a wider range of recreational opportunities that are not allowed in a NP. After the passing of 90-544 and the subsequent occupation by the NPS two main topics have been at the forefront. These two areas of much debate have been:
1. What are the compatible uses and activities in an NRA?
2. How much property should the NPS acquire or otherwise consume before the community that congress sought to protect would no longer resemble the character and value that was recognized at that time of the act?
While I appreciate the spirit of cooperation and partnership that we may be enjoying today, we must not settle for language that will be detrimental to our community in the future. This document is essentially a contract and every word has meaning. The one clause in our enabling legislation (PL 90-544) that has been the salvation of our community over the years is the clause that reads in part ....the Secretary may not acquire any such interests within the recreation areas without the consent of the owner, so long as the lands are devoted to uses compatible with the purposes of this Act. It is my opinion that the only reason we are here today representing a community at all is because congress, in its wisdom included this clause. A Land Protection plan delineates what is and is not considered compatible
and if the wording is left as is in this LPP it will have devastating affects upon our community. An example of this is to first identify a vast majority of the valley as part of the CMZ and then to state that any building with in that zone would subject the owner of the property to a determination that the use the property is being put to is incompatible. This is what this plan currently does in section 3.4.4.
The matrix used on page 58 to determine which property to target for acquisition is both assailable in the light of congressional intent and detrimental to the community. By your own admission this matrix leaves a scant 4.75 acres that remain out of the high or medium priority for acquisition. This is particularly repugnant when you use the following statement in section 5.2, "The number of low priority tracts was reduced substantially, reflecting the more severe flood conditions". The fact is that only three of the nine factors have anything to do with flooding.
In order to soften the blow of the above determinations we have been assured that just because the plan says that property is identified as high priority does not mean the NPS will seek to actually move to acquire or protect the property. There is absolutely no trust that future administrators will be so benevolent. One should also consider that at any time congress could chose to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund or allocate other funding for acquisition of private property within federal areas and plans like the LPP will be exactly what they will use for priority targets.
I am a supporter of the exchange program and much credit needs to be given for including this option for those folks who are in the bite of the line of the Stehekin River. There are several factors, however, that need to be addressed:
• The inventory that you have identified for possible exchange is woefully inadequate when compared to the number of acres you have identified as high priority for protection.
• The criteria for determining which property would be prioritized are skewed and fail to properly put those properties in the forefront that are currently in imminent danger.
• It is of utmost importance that once properties are exchanged that the property that remains in private hands be left with adequate development potential to fulfill the uses congress identified as being essential or allowed
The dramatic flood event of 2003, which may never be duplicated even in 1000 years, destroyed three summer homes and one cabin that was built for summer use but that was being used on a year around basis. That damage was regrettable but when you compare the impact on our community of the recent floods compared to what this plan would do, the river seems like a much preferred adversary. Having said that I believe there are a number of positive actions proposed by the actual
river management portion of the proposal. Much of the contention and trepidation comes from the LPP portion of your planning. I propose we separate the two documents. It seems to be the position of the NPS that all of the actions proposed are currently within the scope of the current GMP.
Let us work together to identify quickly the actions that are proposed for actual river management and then lets agree to extend the timetable that involves reworking the LPP. During this latter process we can hopefully agree on a plan that leaves the community intact and alleviates the detrimental impacts of the river at the same time.
Cliff Courtney, VP Stehekin Heritage
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