|February 15, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—PARKS SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON FALEOMAVAEGA’S NATIONAL PARK BILL|
| Congressman Faleomavaega announced
today that the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and
Public Lands held a legislative hearing on a bill he introduced to expand
the boundaries of the National Park of American Samoa. The bill would
add approximately 1,300 acres of land and 1,300 acres of marine area to
the existing park on and around the islands of Ofu and Olosega.
“The village chiefs of Sili and Olosega noted the important role the park plays in preserving the natural and cultural resources of the territory and indicated that they believed the area was historically significant,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “At their request, I asked the National Park Service to conduct a field study to determine if there was archeological evidence to support Park expansion. The National Park Service concluded that --
The archaeological significance of [Olosega Island] cannot be understated. Sites on the ridgeline and terraces may offer an important opportunity for the study and interpretation of ancient Samoa. The number and density of star mounds (31), the great number of modified terraces (46) and home sites (14), the subsistence system, and the artifacts available are all important findings. This is particularly significant in that they were recorded in only 3 days of visual surveys on only a portion of the island.
“The Park Service also expressed an interest in adding additional acreage on the Island of Ofu to the Park to protect an important coral reef ecosystem already within the Park’s boundaries,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“Based on the results of the National Park Service study and at the request of the village chiefs, I introduced legislation to adjust the boundaries of the Park. Congressman George Radanovich (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands, kindly agreed to hold a hearing on the matter. My good friend, Congresswoman Donna Christensen (D-VI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, was also very supportive of this effort,” Faleomavaega said.
“The hearing was held on February 14, 2002 and I am pleased to report that the testimony was favorable. Both the White House administration and the National Park Service support our request for expansion. Mr. John J. Reynolds, Regional Park Director for the Pacific Southwest region, noted in both his prepared statement and in his oral testimony, that the lands on the island of Olosega and the adjacent offshore waters will add important cultural, biological and marine resources to the national park.”
“Mr. Reynolds noted that the archeological resources found on Olosega are not only important, but unique to American Samoa,” the Congressman continued. “Archeological surveys identified 31 star mounds, 46 modified terraces, 14 house platforms, and an elevated grave site believed to be associated with the King of Olosega.”
“Proposed additions on Ofu contain excellent wildlife and coral reef habitats. As Mr. Reynolds noted, there is even evidence of an ancient agro-forestry system on Olosega that could prove to be an historic agricultural system. There are also species of fauna and fish unique to Samoa or on the U.S. endangered species list,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“As I noted in my testimony, the National Park of American Samoa is continuing to develop. Tourists are visiting and school teachers are using the Park as an educational resource to help our students learn more about Samoan history and culture, the environment, and ecological conservation. However, there has been a 22% population increase from 1990 to 2000 and this has placed considerable pressure on the undeveloped areas adjacent to our Park.”
“I want to commend our village chiefs for their leadership and initiative in proposing additions to our Park as a means of preserving our past,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “I am confident that these additions will also preserve and protect our coral reefs and other natural and cultural resources that bring present beauty to our islands.”
“I am pleased that the hearing went well and
I look forward to passage of the bill by the Subcommittee in the near future,”
the Congressman concluded.
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