Chiricahua National Park Act
STATEMENT OF SHAWN BENGE, ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OPERATIONS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, REGARDING S. 3121, A BILL TO ESTABLISH THE CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL PARK IN THE STATE OF ARIZONA AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
MARCH 4, 2020
Chairman Daines, Ranking Member King and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 3121, to establish the Chiricahua National Park in the State of Arizona as a unit of the National Park System, and for other purposes.
The Department supports S. 3121, as we believe that the name “Chiricahua National Park” is an appropriate designation for this unit of the National Park System.
Chiricahua National Monument was established on April 18, 1924, by President Calvin Coolidge by presidential proclamation under the authority of the law commonly referred to as the Antiquities Act of 1906. The monument is located in Cochise County, approximately 37 miles southeast of Willcox, Arizona. It is located at the intersection of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, the southern Rocky Mountains, and the northern Sierra Madre.
Chiricahua National Monument is known as a “Wonderland of Rocks” because of its distinctive pinnacle formations. These formations are the result of powerful volcanic events combined with geologic erosive forces over time creating the rhyolitic rock formations in the monument. The Madrean Sky Island ecosystem of the Monument protects a great diversity of flora and fauna as well as critical habitat for threatened, endangered and endemic species.
Chiricahua National Monument also preserves evidence of diverse human history spanning thousands of years, including prehistoric indigenous peoples, Chiricahua Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, European American pioneers and ranchers, and the 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corps. The monument’s Faraway Ranch Historic District includes structures, resources and landscapes associated with the former pioneer homestead and working cattle ranch. Stories and evidence of struggle, perseverance, stewardship and connection to the land unite the experiences of each of these groups which left a lasting legacy on the land and our country.
Redesignating the monument as Chiricahua National Park is consistent with the nomenclature patterns of the National Park System. Units designated as national parks generally contain a variety of resources and encompass a large land or water area to help provide adequate protection of the resources. With its wealth of both natural and cultural resources over a large land mass, it is appropriate to designate this unit as a national park.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.