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view, to accomplish the purchase and transfer of the property. We would like to work with members of the Committee to establish a schedule that allows sufficient time to address valuation and funding issues.
Second: valuation and methods of acquisition: the bill stipulates that the land is to be acquired through purchase, even though an exchange might be a viable option. No mention is made of a fair market appraisal as the basis for the purchase price for this land, although such an appraisal is required of any purchase by the United States.
Third: the bill calls for the conveyance of the land designated as the proposed Virgin River Dinosaur Footprint Preserve to the City of St. George with the requirement that the preserve is used in the manner described in the bill. With regard to funding for the city to protect this site, the Department would like to suggest the establishment of a nonprofit foundation, perhaps involving the State of Utah, Washington County and the City of St. George.
This administration stands ready to work with the Subcommittee on language to address these concerns. We recognize the significance and importance of these dinosaur tracks to the City of St. George and the residents of Washington County and the people of the State of Utah. We applaud their efforts to secure these tracks and protect them from further disturbance and deterioration so that they might be shared with the public. We also applaud Dr. and Mrs. Johnson's efforts to also assist in that regard.
This concludes my testimony, and I would be pleased to answer any questions members of the Committee might have. [The prepared statement of Mr. Fulton follows:]
Statement of Tom Fulton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, on H.R. 2385 Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to testify in support of H.R. 2385, the Virgin River Dinosaur Footprint Preserve Act. The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to purchase and then convey to the city of St. George, Utah, certain property on which dinosaur tracks have recently been discovered.
The site involved is located on private property which is adjacent to a turf farm, a small dump, and a high school, within the St. George city limits. The discovery of these tracks within the city of St. George is certainly locally unique and they represent a potential focus for local interpretive efforts. The State of Utah has some of the most concentrated and significant paleontological resources of any region of the country.
The Administration supports H.R. 2385 with amendments to address, among others, the following concerns:
1) Deadlines: We understand that, if these tracks are to be protected, there is a degree of urgency. Sections 2(a) and (b) of the bill include schedules that reflect this urgency but do not allow enough time to accomplish the purchase and transfer of this property. We would like to work with the Committee to establish a schedule that allows sufficient time to address valuation and funding issues.
2) Valuation and Methods for Acquisition: The bill stipulates that this land be acquired through purchase even though an exchange might be a viable option. No mention is made of a fair market appraisal as the basis for the purchase price for this land, although such an appraisal is a required for any purchase by the United States.
3) Post-Acquisition Management and Funding: Section 2(b) calls for the conveyance of the land designated as the Proposed Virgin River Dinosaur Footprint Preserve to the City with the requirement that the Preserve is used in the manner described in the bill. The bill stipulates that the City must preserve, protect, and make the paleontological resources available for educational activities. With regard to funding for the City to protect this site, the Department would like to suggest
the establishment of a non-profit foundation, perhaps involving the State of Utah, Washington County, and the City of St. George. This foundation would provide for the long term operations, maintenance, and educational interpretation of the site. The Department of the Interior would provide long term technical assistance.
The Administration stands ready to work with the Subcommittee on language to address these concerns. We recognize the significance and importance of these dinosaur tracks to the city of St. George and the residents of Washington County. We applaud their efforts to secure these tracks and protect them from further disturbance and deterioration so that they might be shared with the public.
This concludes my testimony. I am pleased to answer any questions the Committee may have.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Fulton.
I forgot to tell the witnesses, and you did a very excellent job of it, but there is a little machine in front of you there, and we would like for you to keep your testimony to 5 minutes if possible, and your entire statement will be put into the record. Then, we would have an opportunity to ask you some questions. So there will come on a little caution light and then a red light, and that is when you are supposed to be through. And Tom, you are obviously a veteran. You did a great job with that.
Let me ask you: in your testimony, you mentioned a concern over the time line that is outlined here in the legislation. Do you have a suggestion about what would be a more realistic time line?
Mr. FULTON. Not a specific time line, Mr. Chairman. I think what the Department needs is adequate time to look at the various aspects of the issue and work with the Committee, with the sponsor of the bill in a way that we make sure that all of the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted so that we can do this in the right way.
Mr. HEFLEY. You also mentioned that there is no reference here to fair market value. Do you think the bill should be amended to include something of that nature in there?
Mr. FULTON. Yes, I do. I think that our requirements would point in that direction, and a fair market valuation would be an item in the bill that we would be pleased to work with the Committee in getting placed in the bill.
Mr. HEFLEY. Do you think that you know, this is wonderful; no question about that. Do we have a responsibility as the Federal Government to help protect these kinds of wonderful things, or is this a local deal that if they want to protect it, let the city protect it? So, we are not in the business of economic development or anything like that. Does this have a national interest or, as Mr. Hansen said, an international interest, that there is value for the United States Government to get involved in it?
Mr. FULTON. Well, I think both, that it is significant in the national scope in that this is one of the best examples that we have of these tracks anywhere in the world; this probably or may well be the best example in the world of the Jurassic period tracks and particularly the tail dragging. But also, it is a local matter. This is important to the City of St. George, Washington County, and the Department of the Interior, which manages nearly one-fourth of the land estate of the United States is local in nature.
Our requirements are that we work with local communities, and we want to do that. It is important to the City of St. George, and so, it is important to us.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much.
Mrs. CHRISTENSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Fulton, what are some of the other examples where the Secretary has been required to buy private property and transfer the land to a nonfederal entity?
Mr. FULTON. I cannot-I am not familiar with any examples. It is the desire of the Secretary to work with local communities in all aspects of public land management. I am not familiar with or aware of any specific examples, though.
Mrs. CHRISTENSEN. Do you have an estimated cost for the land that is proposed to be acquired?
Mr. FULTON. No; that would be the purpose of the fair market valuation.
Mrs. CHRISTENSEN. Okay; and any idea of where the money would come from? Because I understand it is supposed to be taken from other areas to purchase the land. Has any determination been made as to where the funds would come from?
Mr. FULTON. No; we are proposing to work with the author of the bill and to this Committee to determine where those funds might come from.
Mr. HEFLEY. Mr. McGovern? Any other questions?
All right; thank you, Mr. Fulton. I am sorry.
Mr. HANSEN. I am only ex officio here.
Mr. HEFLEY. I will pay the price for overlooking you, I am sure. You will find a way.
Mr. HANSEN. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Fulton, thank you so very much for coming up and testifying on this. We do appreciate it. I think the concerns that you have expressed are relatively minor and can be worked out between the Department of the Interior and the city and the Johnsons and other interested parties. I get a little worried about some of this, because you put your finger on something that concerns me also, and that is what do we do on the timeline here? And I think the Chairman talked about that.
Now, you have got a find that is unbelievable to some people. I do not know; Dr. Johnson could explain this, but we started out with just a few, and now, there are literally dozens of tracks out there now; maybe more than that; I do not know; it could be hundreds. And I still do not think they have turned over half of the area, so there could be all of these things. Would it not be a shame to paleontologists around the world, and don't forget the college student or the high school kid or the elementary school that comes along? I think half of their problem there-when I first went there, there was just a pile of rocks. Now, Dr. Johnson has erected a structure that keeps the wind and rain off it; the city or somebody has put a fence around it. But someone has got to get a hold of this thing, or I think we are going to lose a real treasure that has been presented to the people in a very unique way.
So I would hope that the Department of the Interior, yourself and others and this Committee could work this through expeditiously and iron out these problems. I honestly feel-this is some
thing that the Chairman alluded to, and I could not agree more is this is something that has almost international scope. You know, in the northern end of Utah, we have something called Jansen, and we made that a national monument years ago. People are now asking to make it a park. I do not know if it qualifies. Maybe it does; I do not want to get into that. I will get in trouble with the people up in Vernal. But you get yourself in a situation where I really think that you have got something comparable or better. And so, it would be a shame to let this slip between our fingers because of bureaucracy and crossing T's and dotting I's, but I know that all has to be done.
So I honestly would just urge you folks from the Department of the Interior to help us out all you can. It is something that we do not want to see deteriorate in front of our eyes. So I thank you so much for being here and your excellent testimony, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FULTON. Thank you.
Mr. HEFLEY. Any further questions, Committee?
If not, thank you very much, Tom. You will be around here for the next bill, I assume.
Mr. FULTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HEFLEY. Panel number two will be made up of the Honorable Dan McArthur, who is the Mayor of the City of St. George, Utah; Dr. Sheldon Johnson, who is the discoverer of Johnson Farm Dinosaur Site at St. George.
Mr. Mayor, why do we not start with you?
STATEMENT OF THE HON. DAN MCARTHUR, MAYOR,
ST. GEORGE, UTAH
Mr. MCARTHUR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. I would like to thank you for this opportunity to provide testimony on this important project which will preserve a national treasure. My name is Daniel D. McArthur, and I am the mayor of the City of St. George, Utah, and I am here on behalf of the city today. This legislation is most important to the City of St. George for several reasons which I will attempt to quantify in my testimony today.
I would like to give you a brief history of the significant events surrounding the incredible scientific and educational find of dinosaur tracks. Dr. Sheldon Johnson was leveling a small, sandy hill on his property adjacent to the Virgin River in the City of St. George. He was turning over rocks when he uncovered what has been classified as one of the best collections of dinosaur tracks ever found anywhere in the world.
The footprints are actually a cast of the foot where, 200 million years ago, dinosaurs walked and stepped in 8 inches of clay. The clay rested on a layer of rock that filled with sand. It was perfect for making footprints. So far, at this site, two species of carnivores or meat eaters have been identifies; also, tracks of herbivores or plant eaters known as prosauropods have been found. These tracks have not yet been definitely identified.
The largest of the carnivore tracks at this location are of a dinosaur known as dilophosaurus. The word dinosaur means terrible lizard in the ancient Greek language, and when you break down
the word dilophosaurus, di means two; and lopho means ridges; and saurus means lizard; thus, two-ridged lizard.
It is believed that at the hips, he stood about as high as a small to medium-sized horse and was approximately 20 feet long. He would have weighed between 700 and 1,000 pounds. The dilophosaurus was the dominant predator of its time. Dilophosaurus did not overpower its prey; it slashed and tore the flesh of its victim until it fell. It was fast and agile. Three of the four fingers on the hands had claws that gripped and tore at the prey when it was feeding. As you are probably aware, there are several sites in Utah where dinosaur tracks have been found, but this is the only one providing a unique look at what is basically a cast of a dinosaur's foot.
St. George is located in the middle of several national parks and other natural wonders of the world. The discovery of these magnificent tracks provide the United States, the State of Utah and the City of St. George with a great opportunity as well as a sacred obligation to preserve the past. This dinosaur track find provides a unique opportunity for the aforementioned governmental entities to come together to preserve what could legitimately become a national and a world treasure, possibly the only one of its kind in the world.
Because of St. George's location in the middle of so many national parks and along the I-15 corridor, establishment of this national preserve would make the tracks available to millions of potential visitors from every state and foreign country. Establishment and protection of this resource would provide economic, educational and cultural benefits to a wide cross-section of the public. Scientific research would also be provided if this site is preserved, because most of the site has yet to be excavated. The State of Utah is interested in digging the rest of the site and has earmarked funds to pursue this additional excavation if the site can be secured.
This scientific and educational opportunity is incredible and does not come around very often. The City of St. George supports approval of H.R. 2385 for the following reasons: (a) this bill provides for a partnership of Federal, state and local resources to preserve a national treasure; (b) this bill provides an opportunity for scientific and educational research through on-site excavations; (c) this bill provides an asset that over 150,000 people have visited during the first year without promotion or adequate facilities; (d) this bill provides economic development opportunities for increased tourist traffic to southwestern Utah; (e) this bill provides potential new visitors to the national parks and monuments in southern Utah and northern Arizona.
Approval of this bill would begin the process which would occur if we are going to preserve the historic find for future generations to enjoy. Again, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this Committee for the opportunity you have given me to present this testimony. I would strongly urge you to approve H.R. 2385 so this mutually beneficial project to preserve these historic dinosaur tracks can go forward.
[The prepared statement of Mr. McArthur follows:]